Luol Deng's injury might finally give Brian Scalabrine a chance to convince all Bulls fans that he's a capable NBA player, not just a garbage-time mascot whose every move is cheered wildly at the United Center.
In the last two games, Scalabrine checked in during the first quarter. Against New Jersey on Monday, he logged 23 minutes of playing time, producing 5 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
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The 11-year veteran has said one secret to his NBA longevity is staying involved in every game from the bench, expecting to be sent onto the floor at any moment.
"It feels good to be out there playing basketball," he said after Monday's game. "I train like I want my body to go for 48 minutes for 66 games. That's the way I work out."
Scalabrine made SportsCenter's top 10 plays with a hanging, reverse lay in past Nets' forward Kris Humphries.
"I don't think I did anything spectacular, I think I just did normal basketball things that helped a basketball team win," he said.
Quality opponent alert:
The Bulls have survived their rash of injuries with a 16-3 record in large part because of the schedule. There is a glut of bad teams, in the Eastern Conference especially, and the Bulls have entertained New Jersey, Charlotte, Phoenix, Toronto, Washington and Detroit in their last six home games -- which all own losing records.
The challenge increases today when Indiana visits the United Center.
Heading into Tuesday's home game against Orlando, the Pacers were 11-4, good for second place in the East behind the Bulls.
Indiana has seven players averaging in double figures -- Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, David West, Paul George, Darren Collison, George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough. The Pacers also lead the league in defensive field-goal percentage at .410.
"They're a really good team. They're well-balanced. They play great defense," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They have Granger shooting, Collison off the dribble. Hibbert's playing well. Paul George, all-around player. Hansbrough comes off the bench. We're going to have to be ready to go."
Taj Gibson shot around on Tuesday, which could mean he won't be out much longer. He's missed two games with a left ankle sprain. … The Bulls beat the Pacers twice in preseason, but both teams were just working a couple of newcomers into the rotation. Bulls guard Richard Hamilton and Pacers power forward David West made their first appearances with their new teams in the second contest.