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Thomas slowed by freak injury
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/13/2008 11:38 PM

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Tyrus Thomas scored a season-high 16 points in Saturday's 113-104 win over New Jersey, but his night was nearly derailed by an unusual injury.

As the teams left the court at halftime, Thomas staggered over to the scorer's table and basically collapsed against its cushioned advertising board. After a couple of minutes, he was helped to the locker room by trainer Fred Tedeschi.

When the second half began, Thomas returned to the bench with an ice pack on the back of his neck, the diagnosis a hyperextended neck.

"It hurt. I have a really bad headache right now," Thomas said after the game. "I got elbowed, I think. I really don't know."

It was difficult on video to tell what happened exactly to cause the injury, just that Thomas was shaken up after fighting for a rebound with teammate Joakim Noah. He returned to the floor late in the third quarter and played the final 13 minutes of the game.

Thomas' playing time has come and gone this season. In the last three games, Thomas sat out one entirely and played less than eight minutes in the other two.

"I worked too hard this summer to beat myself up or lose confidence in myself," he said. "I think I'm my worst critic sometimes. I know the work I put in every day when people are not watching. I know what I'm capable of doing."

Late-game assist: Clinging to a 1-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Bulls manufactured a nice play, with Ben Gordon driving the baseline and hitting Luol Deng on the move for a dunk. After a Vince Carter miss, Derrick Rose hit a runner over rookie center Brook Lopez to put the Bulls ahead 103-98 with 1:23 left.

"A couple plays before, I kind of stood there and felt like I could have cut, because my defender wasn't really watching me," Deng said. "The same thing happened again. This time, I cut."

Scoring so soon: Having one player get off to a fast start, the way Ben Gordon did Friday in Memphis, can be seen as a mixed blessing. One guy is scoring points, but the rest of the players may not be getting into the rhythm of the game. Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro didn't see it as a problem.

"They were good shots. He wasn't forcing them," he said. "We had good rhythm to our game, we were moving the basketball. Then when we got in some foul trouble with Ben and Drew (Gooden) and that slowed us down."

Bull horns: The Bulls will host a holiday party at Shedd Aquarium today for 400 children from CHA housing projects. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Thabo Sefolosha and Michael Ruffin are expected to attend. ... After playing briefly in Memphis, Thabo Sefolosha was back on the bench Saturday for the sixth time in the last seven games. ... Lindsey Hunter has sat out five straight contests.