Luol Deng will sit his second consecutive game when the Bulls take on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Deng suffered a strained right hamstring injury last Friday’s overtime win at Boston. While the injury is improving, both he and the team are playing it safe.
Jimmy Butler will get the start, the second of his career.
Butler was impressive in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring 12 of his career-high 18 points, after a slow start, to help force the Bulls force overtime. He also contributed eight rebounds and three steals.
Despite the loss, coach Tom Thibodeau was pleased with the production, effort and energy from Butler during his career high 47 minutes.
“The thing I really like about him is it doesn’t take him a long time to warm up,” Thibodeau said. “Usually we ride Luol into the second quarter and some guys need five minutes to warm up; Jimmy, you can put him in the game and he’s ready to go the moment he gets in. He’s not afraid of the moment. Oftentimes, you can finish a game with him. He handles that part well. When he’s been given extended minutes, he’s handled that well and he showed that the other night that he’s very capable as a starter.”
Thibodeau also acknowledge that Derrick Rose is "very close" to being cleared for full contact practice and that that next step in his rehabilitation could occur this week.
BOOZER RECOGNIZED FOR IMPROVED PLAY
Carlos Boozer was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played through Mon. Jan 14 through Sunday, Jan. 20.
Boozer led the Bulls to a 3-1 record during that span with an average of 23 points and a league-leading 14.8 rebounds.
“I think that he’s playing as well as any power forward in the league right now,” Thibodeau said. “The last month he’s been terrific. When you look over the past two seasons, he’s played very well before. When you look at where he ranks statistically at the end of the season, it’s always at the top of his position. The most important statistic are the wins. That’s how I judge him. I think his teammates are doing a great job of searching him out, he’s doing a great job at creating space and he scores a lot of different ways.”
HOWARD ON ROSE
Lakers center Dwight Howard said he hasn't spoken directly to Derrick Rose since the point guard tore his left ACL last April, but that he's kept track of his progress through their shared Adidas representative.
Howard, also coming off of offeseason back surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, is averaging 17.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on the season for the (17-23) Lakers.
Despite the numbers, he's been a shell of himself and said that he's nowhere near the level that those familiar with him are used to and expects to only get stronger and more explosive as the season goes along.