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updated: 2/9/2012 9:47 PM

Bulls' Deng named to all-star team

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  • Luol Deng, here going up for a shot against New Jersey's Shelden Williams, was named to his first All-Star Game on Thursday.

      Luol Deng, here going up for a shot against New Jersey's Shelden Williams, was named to his first All-Star Game on Thursday.
    Associated Press

  • New Orleans Hornets forward Trevor Ariza (1) drives around Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. The Bulls defeated the Hornets 90-67.

      New Orleans Hornets forward Trevor Ariza (1) drives around Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. The Bulls defeated the Hornets 90-67.

  • Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, left, strips Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson of the ball during the third quarter in Game 5 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-83, and lead the series 3-2.

      Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, left, strips Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson of the ball during the third quarter in Game 5 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-83, and lead the series 3-2.

 
 

For a year-and-a-half now, the Bulls have been the best regular-season team in the Eastern Conference.

So it seemed logical that conference coaches would show some appreciation for a guy who is usually not in the spotlight, but contributes so much to the Bulls' success.

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The votes were counted and Luol Deng was officially named an all-star reserve on Thursday night. This is the first selection for the eighth-year pro and he becomes the 14th Bulls player to be chosen for the game.

Joining Deng as East reserves are Boston's Paul Pierce, Miami's Chris Bosh, Indiana's Roy Hibbert, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, Atlanta's Joe Johnson and New Jersey's Deron Williams. Hibbert and Iguodala are also first-time all-stars.

The East starters are Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

The Western Conference reserves include Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Memphis' Marc Gasol, Minnesota's Kevin Love, Phoenix's Steve Nash, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.

Deng talked about what it would mean to make the all-star team after Wednesday's 90-67 win at New Orleans.

"It would be great," Deng said, according to espn.com. "Whoever plays in this league always wants to be (an all-star)."

Deng looked like a shoo-in for an all-star spot until missing seven games with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He decided not to have surgery and returned last Saturday in Milwaukee with 21 points.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has provided plenty of praise for Deng's all-star campaign during the past few weeks.

"Lu doesn't have to score to have a great impact on our team and winning," Thibodeau said Wednesday. "He plays great defense. He plays a great floor game. He moves without the ball. He makes the extra pass. He has very good statistics, but you can't measure his impact statistically."

Asked if he'd lobbied his fellow coaches on Deng's behalf, Thibodeau wouldn't go that far.

"I know how I am when people do that," he said. "I think that doesn't get you very far. These coaches, they look, they study. I think his play speaks for itself. I think if you value winning, you appreciate all the things he does."

Some big names were left off the list, such as San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Boston's Kevin Garnett, but there weren't many surprises. The only difference from the East all-star reserves suggested in Wednesday's Daily Herald was Deng instead of Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings.

On the TNT selection show, there was some support for Indiana's Danny Granger, but his .375 field-goal percentage doesn't exactly scream all-star.

An argument could be made for Atlanta's Josh Smith instead of teammate Joe Johnson, or Boston's Rajon Rondo instead of Williams. But thanks to the late start to the season, the sample size of statistics was smaller than usual.

The All-Star Game will be held Feb. 26 in Orlando.

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