Deng blazed trail over Portland
CHICAGO – Luol Deng might lead the NBA in scoring if the Bulls played the Trail Blazers more often.
Deng scored a career-high 40 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 110-98 victory over Portland on Monday night. Deng’s previous career best of 38 points, on March 26, 2007, also came against the Trail Blazers.
“I think it’s just a coincidence,” said Deng. “We just shot the ball well. We moved it and shot it well. You’re going to get shots in different places [in our offence], so you’ve go to be ready.”
Without question, this was the Bulls’ best game of the season, but it was also one of the most aggressive games Luol Deng has played in a long time, writes ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell.
Deng scored 16 points in the first and third quarters and shot 14-of-19 from the floor in the game. He passed his previous career high with a three-pointer from the corner with 5:48 to play.
The shot put the Bulls up 101-84.
“During the first two games, [Deng] didn’t shoot the ball well, but I thought he played well,” said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau. Good defence
“He’s moving without the ball, he’s cutting hard, he’s making the extra pass and he’s playing really good defence. Tonight he was terrific offensively. His body was in [constant] motion and he got out and ran the floor well.”
Derrick Rose, who entered the game as the NBA’s leading scorer, added 16 points and 13 assists for Chicago (2-1). The assist total matched his previous career high, set against Utah last March.
“My whole goal was to see how I could control the game,” Rose said. “They were keeping two people on me, so I had to pass the ball. Tonight we were knocking in shots.”
In Los Angeles, the San Antonio Spurs notched up their 17th straight win over the hometown Clippers.
The Spurs have a better bench this season, according to coach Gregg Popovich, which should allow him to better manage the minutes he rations out to veterans Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and preserve their aging legs.
Parker had 19 points and nine assists in the victory. Richard Jefferson scored 18 points and reserve Gary Neal had 16. San Antonio’s reserves outscored their Clippers counterparts 25-0 before rookie forward Al-Farouq Aminu got the first points by the Los Angeles bench on a lay-up with 10:07 to play.
Brazilian rookie Tiago Splitter, the first player off the Spurs’ bench, scored his first points but spent only seven minutes on the court during the first three quarters and scored his only points on a driving dunk 27 seconds in. The basket triggered an 8-2 spurt that increased San Antonio’s lead to 83-67 with 9:05 to play. (AP)