Halfway through their season, the Chicago Bulls have been hit with two big injuries.
The Bulls could be without two key players again on Friday when they host the Charlotte Bobcats.
Chicago (17-24) forward Luol Deng, whose 17.9 points per game rank second on the team, for one-to-three weeks because of his recurring left Achilles' tendinitis. Deng has been bothered by the ailment for about a month, and he doesn't plan on rushing back.
"We're going to try to be smart about it," he said. "I don't want to come back and have to sit down again. Even if I feel good after one week, I'm really going to try to test it and see how good it feels before I start going again."
Deng missed Wednesday's 108-95 win over Indiana along with Ben Gordon, who leads the Bulls with an average of 19.6 points. Gordon, who sprained his right wrist on Monday in a 104-90 loss at Memphis, also sat out.
"X-rays were taken (on Gordon), and from what I understand, they were negative," interim coach Jim Boylan said. "It's just can he get it loose enough so he can play."
Deng and Gordon both missed practice on Thursday, along with Chris Duhon, who is out indefinitely with a sprained left knee. Joe Smith also sat out practice with an ailing right knee, although he had six points in 14 minutes against the Pacers.
With Deng and Gordon out, Kirk Hinrich picked up the slack Wednesday, scoring a career-high 38 points to help Chicago to its third win in five games. Hinrich has scored in double figures in 11 of his last 12 games, but also missed three during that span with back spasms.
"I had to make plays tonight, without (Gordon) and (Deng)," Hinrich said. "Those guys do a lot of stuff for us, attack for us on offense. I'm confident I can make plays."
Andres Nocioni had 24 points for the Bulls, and rookie Joakim Noah added 14 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
"We got a good win today, but at the same time, we can't get too happy," Noah said. "Right now, we're a team that's trying to get into the playoffs. We want to be there. And in order to do that, we have to be consistent."
The Bulls are 11-3 all-time against Charlotte (16-26), including a 6-1 mark in Chicago. The Bobcats have dropped four straight in the series since a 100-85 home win on Feb. 14 last season.
The Bobcats lost for the third time in four games overall on Wednesday, falling 102-95 to Dallas. Still, they nearly came back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit in first-year coach Sam Vincent's first game against his mentor, Avery Johnson.
"We played hard and played well in spurts," Vincent said. "We just have to get better at making key decisions at key times."
Gerald Wallace had 22 points and 11 rebounds and played all 48 minutes despite a strained left calf, which he admitted kept him at less than full strength.
"I can live with it because I know my explosiveness wasn't there," Wallace said. "I didn't jump or attack the basket the way I wanted to."
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