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Deng inspires Bulls to London win

Chicago Bulls celebrate their last-second win over Utah Jazz in London

Video - Bulls beat Jazz on the buzzer in London

By Andrew McKenzie

Luol Deng enjoyed a successful homecoming as his Chicago Bulls edged out the Utah Jazz in a thrilling finale to their NBA pre-season game in London.

The Team GB star finished joint top scorer with 18 points as the Bulls won 102-101 in front of a crowd of 18,689.

Deng added five assists in 24 minutes on court to the delight of most of the fans, who were supporting the Bulls.

Chicago had rookie James Johnson to thank for the win with a dramatic, buzzer-beating winning basket.

It was the third year in a row the NBA has staged a pre-season game in London as it looks to step up its plans for a global expansion push ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

The game at the O2 Arena was the culmination of a four-day charm offensive in which the league staged events across the capital featuring a host of current and past NBA players.

This year the main event was given extra significance by the presence of 24-year-old Londoner Deng.

He was playing only his second game in eight months as he continues his rehabilitation from a stress fracture that caused him to miss GB's EuroBasket campaign in the summer.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

Injury problems have led some Bulls fans to question the club's decision to give Deng a six-year contract worth over £40m and there will be high expectations on him to rediscover the form of 2006-07 when the season gets under way for real later this month.

There were no such worries at the O2, which will host the Olympic basketball finals in 2012, with Deng receiving a rapturous ovation as he addressed the crowd before tip off.

It was perhaps unsurprising as Deng - one of nine brothers and sisters - could have filled up a section of the arena with friends and family alone.

The crowd included footballers Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, Sol Campbell, Darren Bent and Michael Dawson, triple jumper Phillips Idowu, boxer David Haye, rugby union stars Joe Worsley and Steve Borthwick and boy band JLS.

Luol Deng

Deng enjoys London NBA outing

Deng looked determined to impress as he led all scorers with nine points in an opening quarter that the Bulls edged 27-26.

He got his first points with a strong move to the basket to score before adding the resulting free throw.

Despite not looking completely comfortable on the right leg that has kept him out since March he still made four of his six shots in the period before being substituted towards the end of the opening quarter.

With Deng on the bench, the Bulls' rookies helped them open up the game's first significant lead.

A big dunk from Taj Gibson on the Jazz's Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko was followed by a spectacular slam by first-year forward Johnson, who then hit a three-pointer from the corner to give them a 43-36 lead halfway through the second quarter.

The Bulls, who were missing injured guard Derrick Rose, opened up a 10-point lead before a mini-comeback from the Jazz was halted by four points late in the quarter by the returning Deng, and a Kirk Heinrich three-pointer helped them take a 55-48 lead at the half.

Derrick Byers scores with a slam dunk for Chicago
Both sides put on an entertaining show for an enthusiastic crowd

The Jazz struggled with their half-court offence as coach Jerry Sloan used 13 players in the opening half alone.

But the combination of star guard Deron Williams and forward Wesley Matthews saw them narrow the lead to 81-77 by the end of the third quarter.

With Deng on the bench at the start of the fourth quarter the Jazz went ahead from a basket by Paul Millsap, who led Utah with 18 points.

As the lead changed hands in the closing minutes Deng remained on the bench.

Johnson completed a three-point play to give the Bulls a 100-99 lead and then came up with a steal at the other end.

Utah retook the lead with two free throws from Ronnie Price only for the Bulls, who famously beat the Jazz in the 1998 Finals courtesy of some last-second heroics from Michael Jordan, to have the final say.

Johnson won a rebound off a missed shot by Derrick Byars and with time running out he sunk an off-balance 10ft shot to the delight of a partisan London crowd and their chief cheerleader Deng.


Chicago forward Luol Deng:
"It was just unbelievable, looking in the stands and seeing so many people who helped me play basketball, and for them to see me playing in a Bulls jersey.

"It's hard not to (start thinking about 2012).

"As a basketball player there is so much I want to accomplish before the Olympics but it does cross your mind and I definitely can't wait."

Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro:
"Luol played very well, he was very aggressive from the get go.

"We know how important he is to our team so we have to be smart with him because it's a long season.

"The crowd was tremendous, a full house, and an exciting game. You want to put on a good show and I think both teams did that."



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Deng 'can be UK's Jordan'
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US 'Dream Team' eye London game
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Bulls coach eyes NBA Europe teams
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NBA basketball eyes global expansion
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NBA star tips Lakers to win title
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