Deng expects to miss at least 1 week with back injury
LOS ANGELES -- Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls forward, expects to be sidelined for at least one week after aggravating a back injury during his team's 92-73 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening.
The forward was listed as doubtful to start the Bulls' game at Staples Center, having woken with a painful lower back on Friday morning, the day after Chicago saw its record slump to 1-6 in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.
After undergoing intense treatment, Deng started against the Clippers, scoring eight points while playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter and helping the Bulls race into a 29-16 lead.
However, the 22-year-old Deng re-injured his back while scoring on a second quarter hook shot and played only eight minutes in the second half, without adding to his score.
Deng, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes, was ruled out of the second half of the Bulls' L.A. double header -- Sunday's meeting with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers -- and does not expect to play against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
"I'm not going to play tomorrow or Tuesday," said Deng, who will be examined by team doctors and possibly undergo an MRI scan on his back Sunday. "I would think I'm out until Saturday [against the New York Knicks].
"I'm so relieved and happy that we played so well and got the win but I'm disappointed to have this problem, I've never had any problem with my back in the past.
"Everything felt good in the first quarter but then I went up and twisted when I scored that basket and felt it 'go' straight away. I can hardly walk right now. I've never had back pain like it."
An initial diagnosis suggested that Deng has jammed a ligament in his lower back and his injury took the gloss off what was only Chicago's second win of the season.
"That's as close as we've looked to how we normally play," said Bulls coach Scott Skiles. "We were impressive at both ends. That was the best defense we have played this year, our ball movement was good and we made some shots."
Ian Whittell covers the NBA for the London Times.