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Luol Deng takes finger into his own hands, returns vs. Pacers

In 45 games prior to the All-Star break, Luol Deng had one double-digit rebounding game.

In the three games since?

He has three.

Monday, in a 101-93 win against the Indiana Pacers, he had 16, the third-highest total of his 12-year career, including five offensive rebounds. That gave him 11 offensive rebounds and 26 defensive rebounds in the three games, all wins, all without Chris Bosh.

"Lu has been fantastic," Erik Spoelstra said. 

He's been unleashed, playing as a speed "power" forward.

"If you see, the role is different," Deng said. "I'm definitely cutting more. I'm at the top of the key. I'm on the side. Before, early in the year, at the three spot, you're more in the corner. I'm just being more who I am. As the game goes on, even with the rebounding, I'm just moving. And I know, especially when a big is guarding me, my mindset is, I'm just going to keep on moving. I always feel like I'm in great shape."

Deng has always felt that rebounding was an underrated part of his game.

"I get a lot of putbacks," Deng said. "Even in the past, I've done that. And it's just from moving. Maybe I'm cutting when someone is taking a shot, so I'm right there. A lot of times when I'm spacing and I'm out there, the only thing I can do it get back." 

Deng didn't shoot well Monday, starting 1-for-9 before finishing 5-of-18. Still, he was needed down the stretch and in overtime, which is why he felt he needed to return after injuring his right middle finger at the end of the fourth quarter. He was reaching for a loose ball, and when the ball was pulled away, his finger slammed into the floor.

Double dislocation.

"This part was on top of this part, and this one was sideways," Deng said. "So what I tried to do was, I tried to put this one in first, and I couldn't. So I went to (trainer) Jay (Sabol), and he was like, no, you've got to be careful, because if it's broken, you can make it worse. So when I came back in the hallway, I said, I can't wait. So I grabbed it right here. And I pulled it. And when I pulled it out, both of them went in. .... I just pulled it forward. You know what it is? My mindset is, the more I wait, the more it's going to hurt."

Deng showed that he dislocated another finger before, and did the same thing.

But he's not with it now. 

He said, because the finger is loose now, he'll need to wear tape going forward. 

That, though, shouldn't bother him too much -- he had six rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime Monday, while wearing it Monday.





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