Luol Deng iced the Toronto Raptors with a silky, 18-foot, pull-up jumper in overtime to give the Chicago Bulls a 107-105 road victory, but he may pay the price for staying on the floor for a game-high 48 minutes on Wednesday night.
Deng told Aggrey Sam of CSN-Chicago he pulled his hamstring during the first quarter of the contest, but that he wanted to get back on the court and help the Bulls record a win. For the Bulls fans who lament Tom Thibodeau's heavy reliance on Deng and Joakim Noah, the 48 minutes logged by both players in Toronto will only provide more fuel for the fire.
Deng leads the NBA in total minutes played and minutes per game, so he is already at high risk for injury. The all-star small forward spent the majority of last season playing through various injuries (including torn ligaments in his wrist), and perhaps his toughness got the best of him on Wednesday night (via CSN-Chicago):
"I tweaked it early in the first quarter. I was going to come out, I came out early," he said. "The plan was to come back, but I just felt like I could play through it. Coach kept asking me, the training staff kept asking me how I felt, but hopefully it won't be too bad tomorrow. But just one of those nagging injuries. I just hope it's not serious."
Then again, he chipped in 19 points and drained the game-winning shot in overtime as the Bulls battled back from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to scrape out a victory. Kyle Lowry tied the game with a floater near the end of the extra period, and next Deng took Landry Fields off the dribble and pulled up around the right elbow for a beautiful shot to give the Bulls their sixth win in the last eight games.
Thibodeau had this to say: "I thought Lu made a great read. That's Lu's strength right there. Big shot."
Here's a look at the game-winner with the call from Bulls analyst Stacey King, who breaks out the "Luol Dengerous" reference for good measure:
Next up for the Bulls is a Friday matchup against the Boston Celtics.