CHARLOTTE -- Two things were on the mind of Derrick Rose after the Bulls crushed New Orleans on Wednesday. One, he loves his team, saying: “We’re on a mission.” Two, he hopes Luol Deng will make his first NBA All-Star team.
“He deserves it,” Rose said. “I’d be more hurt than Lu (if it doesn’t happen), knowing he has a nonchalant attitude about making the team.”
And at 6 p.m. tonight on TNT, it was announced that Deng was named a reserve for the Feb. 26 All-Star Game from Orlando.
Deng was unavailable for comment Thursday night, but will meet the media at the Bulls' shootaround in Charlotte on Friday morning.
Minnesota's Kevin Love, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, San Antonio's Tony Parker, Phoenix's Steve Nash and Memphis' Marc Gasol were named as the Western Conference reserves.
While fan voting determines the All-Star starters, coaches from the Eastern and Western Conferences voted to select seven players for each respective squad. Two guards, two forwards, one center and two additional players regardless of their position were filled, with coaches unable to vote for their own players.
Bulls Tom Thibodeau said he would not get on the horn to lobby for Deng to be picked by the coaches..
“Nah, I know how I am when people do that,” he said. “That doesn't get you very far. These coaches, they know, they look, they study. I think his play speaks for itself. And I think if you value winning, you appreciate all the things that he does.”
Thibodeau will likely become the third Bull to have involvement in the All-Star Game. If the Bulls still have the conference's best record as of Wednesday, Feb. 15, Thibodeau will serve as the Eastern Conference coach. As of Thursday's evening, the Bulls owned a two-game lead over the Heat.
Deng is averaging 16 points, tied for 33rd in the NBA, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
What hurts his cause is that he missed seven games with a left wrist injury. What helps is that he’s the second best player on a team that’s 22-6.
“We have one of the best records in the league and he is a huge, huge part of it,” guard Kyle Korver said.
Added Thibodeau: “Lu doesn't have to score to have a great impact on our team and winning. He plays great defense. He plays a great floor game. He moves without the ball. He makes the extra pass. And he has very good statistics, but you can't measure his impact statistically. I know what he brings. I know all the coaches and all his teammates appreciate everything that he does.”
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