By Adam Fluck
Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, both of whom are nursing sore knees, are expected to play when the Bulls host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.
“If they’re out there running, they loosen up and they’re playing well, they’re going to be out there,” said Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro.
For Deng, it will be a return to action after missing his first game of the season on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.
“It’s just a little inflammation; it’s nothing structural,” Del Negro said of Deng’s knee. “I expect both Derrick and Luol to play.”
Assume he does, Deng will be tested on the defensive end of the court being matched up against Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, who has posted averages of 20.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
“He can take you off the dribble, has really good size, shoots it up high and is very athletic,” Del Negro said of Gay.
The Bulls lead the all-time series 16-11 (.593) and they are 12-2 (.857) all-time against the Grizzlies at the United Center. The two squads split last year’s season series 1-1 for the fourth season in a row. The last time either team swept the season series was during the 2004-05 season, when Chicago went 2-0 against Memphis.
Last year versus the Grizzlies, Derrick Rose averaged 19.0 ppg, 7.0 apg and 5.0 rpg in 41.0 mpg and shot .500 from the floor. Rudy Gay averaged 24.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 39.5 mpg against the Bulls last year.
The Bulls have won their last five home games against Memphis. The Bulls last lost to the Grizzlies at home was during the 2003-04 season, 105-98, on Feb. 21, 2004.
Currently tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference and one of five teams essentially fighting for the last four playoff spots, the Bulls are faced with a tough schedule over the coming weeks. Knowing they’ll be without Joakim Noah, sidelined with plantar fasciitis for the next three weeks, makes that a daunting task with the postseason watch nearing full effect.
“It’s difficult,” acknowledged Del Negro. “The old cliché is that you play them one at a time. We’ll see who is healthy. We are home , so I expect us to have a great effort. There’s nothing easy for us; we’re just not built like that right now where we can just roll the ball out and give it to someone and make it happen. Everyone has to do their job and play well.”
Bulls to host food drive this Saturday
The Bulls, Midway Moving and Storage and Vienna Beef will host a food drive this Saturday, March 6 to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Prior to the 7 p.m. tip-off of the Bulls’ home game against the Dallas Mavericks, fans are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food items at any of the United Center admission gates.
High protein foods in unbreakable containers, as well as baby foods, diapers and hygiene products are highly recommended. Monetary donations to the Greater Chicago Food Depository in conjunction with the Bulls’ food drive will also be collected at the gates on Saturday.
Fans not attending that evening’s game can still assist in the collection by purchasing food items or making a donation in the virtual food drive at Bulls.com.
Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on the status of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, facing the Memphis Grizzlies, and a tough schedule down the stretch (03.04.10):
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