Deng brings down house

SportsChicago BullsLuol DengBasketballChris DuhonAndres NocioniBen Gordon

If this basketball thing doesn't work out for Luol Deng, maybe he can work on perfecting his stand-up routine.

After his standout performance Friday night in the Bulls' 107-97 victory over the Raptors, Deng tried to keep a straight face as he described his 25-point night despite a wrapped right wrist and two sprained fingers.

Instead, Deng offered rim shot after rim shot, a nice contrast to the swishes that defined his 11-of-16 shooting and made any lingering pain from James Posey's flagrant foul on Wednesday disappear.

"I had to get a shot every 30 seconds to keep my wrist loose," Deng said.

Good night, everybody!

"When I was passing, the wrist bothered me," Deng said.

He'll be here all week!

Actually, the Bulls wouldn't mind taking up extended residence at Air Canada Centre given that they have defeated Toronto 15 straight times, including seven in this building. Previously, Toronto had won 16 straight, making this series as wacky as Deng's humor.

"Maybe he's conning you into the gutsy Luol Deng article," coach Scott Skiles said, joining the fun.

Tempering the guffaws, though, was Kirk Hinrich exiting late in the third quarter with a strained left groin. Hinrich aggravated a condition that silently had been nagging him as he tried to cut off speedy T.J. Ford's penetration.

Hinrich had 16 points and four assists in 31 minutes but was clearly downcast afterward, knowing that missing a divisional game against LeBron James and Cleveland on Saturday night is likely.

"I pulled it pretty good," Hinrich said. "As soon as I cut him off, I felt a real strong hurt. Any time I made a cut, it felt like I was re-pulling it. It's pretty sore."

The Bulls' spirits felt otherwise after they shot 59.7 percent to improve to 5-10 on the road. Ben Gordon scored 22 points for his seventh straight game of 20-plus and had six assists.

Chris Duhon added 12 points and seven assists and seemed to be in every big fourth-quarter play.

Duhon drained a three-pointer to cap a 16-6 run that opened the quarter as well as a 17-point lead, the Bulls' largest.

After Toronto closed to 101-95, Duhon penetrated and dished to Ben Wallace for a basket and foul. When Wallace missed his free throw, P.J. Brown—playing a season-high 31 minutes—grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit two free throws for a four-point possession.

"That knocked the air out of them," Duhon said.

Brown logged heavy minutes because Skiles said Toronto's big men were causing matchup problems for Andres Nocioni, who played just 16 minutes.

Even Michael Sweetney got in on the fun, scoring eight second-quarter points as the Bulls outscored Toronto 28-14 in the period. This after he went for X-rays on Thursday, believing he had broken his jaw.

"We had a lot of guys contribute," Skiles said.

None more so than Deng, who played the entire second half and a game-high 41 minutes. All to, you know, stay loose.

"Nah, he was clearly sore," Skiles said, ending the comedy routine. "He stayed in his range. He knocked down shots. He didn't try to do too much."

By doing so, he helped the Bulls do a lot. With Detroit's loss, those teams are now tied for the most Eastern Conference victories.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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