Luol Deng slumped down at his locker with ice bags on both knees, his arms crossed behind his head and a look of exasperation on his face. The All-Star forward realized he had to perform well for the short-handed Bulls to overcome the Nets on Saturday night. He didn't. Deng scored only six points on 3-for-11 shooting in the Bulls' 106-89 loss in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. He played 38 minutes yet was uncharacteristically invisible most of the night. Deng was asked to dissect what went wrong. "I'm going to look at tape and see," he said. "I didn't play well tonight. I thought I should have been more aggressive earlier, with the game kind of being out of hand. But (the Nets) did a good job. They did a good job taking options away. But it's a series. We have to stay together." Deng was outplayed by Nets forward Gerald Wallace, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. "We played a great team defense," Wallace said, refusing to take credit for holding down Deng. "Our rotation was good. Our team defense was good. The defense was balanced. We forced them into a lot of things they didn't want to do offensively." Deng gave Wallace credit. "He's a good player," Deng said. "He had a good night. … I play hard. I battle. I'm just looking at it as I had a bad game tonight." Deng, who entered Saturday averaging 17 points in 43 playoff outings, had just two first-half points on 1-for-6 shooting as the Bulls trailed 60-35 at halftime.
Rough night for Deng in series opener
Chicago Tribune | Apr 21