Luol Deng

Luol Deng officially day-to-day, but seems doubtful for remainder of the series vs. Heat

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Luol Deng has been dealing with complications from a spinal tap he underwent late in the Bulls first round series against the Nets. Now that we’re approaching Game 4 of his team’s series against the Heat, things don’t seem to be improving quickly enough that a return to the court would seem likely anytime soon.

Deng went through a physical ordeal, and while he’s trying to do what he can to get himself back into basketball shape, his body is simply not yet responding.

From the Chicago Tribune (via HoopsHype):

Moments after the Bulls coach called Luol Deng “day to day” and left Deng’s Game 4 availability open because “hopefully, with another 24 hours he’s better,” Deng painted a graver picture. “I did some individual work (Saturday) and I started throwing up a little bit. I couldn’t finish the workout,” Deng said. “I tried to practice (Sunday) and the same thing. I just warmed up and couldn’t get through practice. My body, my system is not reacting well to anything I’m doing right now.”

Indeed, Deng continues to sound doubtful for the remainder of the series, even though he admitted he talked to Thibodeau about giving “five or 10 minutes or whatever to give these guys a little break.” Deng’s illness and subsequent serious complications from a spinal tap that necessitated a blood patch to heal have created a long recovery road. “It’s not as bad as it was before,” Deng said. “But I can’t even get through a regular warm-up.”

Deng isn’t a high-energy interior force that could give his team an emotional lift in short bursts like we’ve seen from David Lee of the Warriors a few times in this postseason.

Instead, Deng is an All-Star contributor who the Bulls rely on for heavy minutes, and who tends to impact the game more subtly after feeling out its rhythm before knowing when to attack.

It’s looking more and more as if the Bulls will have to continue the fight against the Heat without Deng for the rest of the series — one which isn’t likely to last beyond Game 5 considering the talent disparity between the two rosters.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.