The Chicago Bulls have managed what most would have thought impossible when the season started; they've remained surprisingly competitive in the Eastern Conference without their superstar, Derrick Rose. They have done so while battling injuries to numerous other role players on the team, but they got a boost last night when Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton returned to the lineup.
The Bulls used Deng and Hamilton's return to help propel themselves to an 97-77 victory over the Washington Wizards. Deng scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds in 37 minutes of play. Hamilton had nine points and one assist in 15 minutes of game action.
Deng is coming off a sprained ankle suffered on Christmas Day, while Hamilton suffered a torn plantar fascia and has finally worked his way back to the floor. Both are integral parts of the Bulls roster even with Rose healthy. With Rose out, they are absolute necessities.
Despite the injury problems the Bulls have faced, they are 16-12 and in the fifth spot of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. And they should still get Rose back at some point this season. He has been making progress slowly, and a return early in the 2013 calendar year is likely. In the mean time, the Bulls will need to rely on the health of the rest of the team to carry them through a difficult season.
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