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posted: 3/13/2012 12:01 AM

Getting Deng, Watson back would be a big help

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  • New York Knicks forward Josh Harrellson (55) fouls Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson during the first half of a game Monday in Chicago.

    New York Knicks forward Josh Harrellson (55) fouls Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson during the first half of a game Monday in Chicago.
    Associated Press


The Bulls are hoping Luol Deng (sore left wrist) and C.J. Watson (sprained ankle) will be able to return Wednesday when the Bulls host Miami in a showdown to the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

"C.J. is getting closer," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think another day will be good for him, same with Lu."

Joakim Noah was back in the starting lineup Monday against New York after sitting out Saturday due to an illness.

Kyle Korver had been averaging 15.4 points in five games as a starter, but he didn't find as many open looks against the Knicks, finishing with 9 points after hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. Rookie Jimmy Butler continued to get more time, playing a season-high 29 minutes Monday and contributing 8 points.

Shumpert enjoys homecoming:

New York rookie guard Iman Shumpert grew up in Oak Park, so playing his first professional game at the United Center was a big deal. Before the contest, he had a good story about his most memorable Bulls moment as a kid.

"We sat courtside at a Celtics game, me and my aunt did," Shumpert said. "I was crazy about the Bulls. We had Jordan everything, and she surprised me with courtside seats."

Shumpert, who played in college at Georgia Tech, couldn't nail down what year this happened, but he thought Elton Brand might have been playing for the Bulls, which would narrow the window to 1999-2001.

"I don't remember how old I was. I was young, though. I was happy. I was out-of-control happy," he said. "It was when Antoine Walker was with the Celtics.

"The only reason I remember 'Toine is we were winning and he was walking to the locker room and I thought I was going to get an autograph, but he wouldn't give me an autograph. That's what I remember out of everything."

Chandler back in town:

Until Jeremy Lin stole his thunder, New York's biggest off-season acquisition was former Bulls center Tyson Chandler. Before Monday's game, he talked about his Chicago years.

"It's weird even coming to the city yesterday," he said. "I realize how much I enjoy the city now that I'm away and older and able to appreciate it. I think I was way too young when I came here to really recognize the culture and everything that the city has to offer. It's definitely one of my favorite cities. I came here young (in 2001) and didn't know what to expect. I've learned a lot over the years."

Bull horns:

The Bulls are 28-0 this season when leading at the end of the first quarter. ... Saturday's victory over Utah marked the first time since Jan. 14, 1984, that the Bulls had three players score at least 24 points and all shoot better than 50 percent from the field. Carlos Boozer (27 points), Kyle Korver (26) and Derrick Rose (24) did that against the Jazz. Orlando Woolridge, Mitchell Wiggins and David Greenwood did it in '84. Former Knicks and Bulls forward Charles Oakley was at Monday's game.

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