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Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich unlikely for Game 7

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Updated: June 5, 2013 6:14AM



Game 7 on Saturday is no longer about X’s and O’s.

The final act of the first-round series between the Bulls and Brooklyn Nets is about will.

The Nets entered the series with more talent but also with questions — many of them coming from Bulls players — about their heart. The Bulls crawled into the series with their most talented player in a suit, only to see more breakdowns on the health front.

Friday didn’t offer up much better news.

Forward Luol Deng reported on his Twitter account that he had to check back into the emergency room, was staying overnight and would be unable to make the trip to New York with his teammates.

According to Deng’s tweets, “On Wednesday, I was taken to the ER, and my symptoms indicated I may have meningitis. In order to play on Thursday, I was required to undergo a spinal tap. . . . As a result of the spinal tap, I suffered the worst headache I’ve ever experienced and been the weakest I’ve ever felt.’’

Deng said his symptoms worsened Thursday night, and he was back in the ER. He did add, “If medically cleared, I will fly to New York to be with my team and try to win Game 7.’’

Guard Kirk Hinrich, who missed the last two games because of a bruised left calf, was a game-time decision for the series finale.

The Bulls are 5-1 against the Nets this season when Hinrich plays. He shot a bit after practice Friday but appeared limited.

Guard Nate Robinson and forward Taj Gibson, who played with flulike symptoms Thursday, were feeling better, but coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t seem overly concerned about who could play.

“We’ve dealt with that all season,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’ve been short-handed from the start. We lost more guys along the way, and these guys have responded all year. I thought we were in position in Game 5. I thought we were in position in Game 6, so we have to play our best game [Saturday].’’

Center Joakim Noah felt comfortable enough after the Game 6 loss to promise the Bulls would advance to play the Miami Heat.

He wasn’t backing down a day later.

“I just think we’re going to win,’’ Noah said.

Thibodeau isn’t big on guarantees, but he wasn’t the least bit upset with Noah.

“What wins is the work you put into it,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s not going to be done on hope, talk, fans or any of that stuff. Whether you win or lose will be determined by what you do on the floor, and that’s the only thing you should be concentrating on. Concentrate on doing your job, going play-by-play and giving maximum effort. That’s all we’re asking anyone to do.

“It comes down to one game. It’s the ultimate. That’s what you play for, so we’re looking forward to it.’’



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