AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich missed Game 7 of Chicago's series against the Brooklyn Nets, leaving the Bulls without two starters as they tried to avoid losing a series they led 3-1.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Deng remained hospitalized in Chicago with an illness and was unable to travel for Saturday night's game. The starting forward was tested for meningitis this week and Thibodeau said the team was still waiting for results.
Hinrich missed his third straight game with a bruised left calf. He had done little besides shooting over the last couple of days before trying to warm up Saturday night, and Thibodeau said the point guard was "not quite there."
Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli started for the Bulls.
Hinrich, his lower leg wrapped in ice, said during the morning shootaround that if there was any way he could play, he would give it a try.
The Bulls had missed his defense against Nets point guard Deron Williams after Hinrich was hurt last Saturday while helping the Bulls rally to win Game 4.
Thibodeau also said Robinson and Taj Gibson, who played through the flu Thursday night in a Game 6 loss, were both feeling better.
Even with all Chicago's injuries, Derrick Rose said he hasn't been pressured by anyone in the organization to play. Rose has sat out all season after tearing his ACL in last year's playoff opener, and though he has been practicing, he still doesn't feel healthy enough to play.
"I'm feeling about the same," he said. "Still being patient, still trying to take care of my body and just been trying to enjoy this time but cheer on my teammates."
Rose has been criticized for not attempting to play with all the injuries around him, but the Bulls have continued to defend the 2011 MVP, saying he is working hard. Neither he nor the team has ruled out a return this season, though Rose said the advantage of taking the whole year off would be coming back healthy next fall.
"If I do take the whole year off, if I don't play anymore, I know I'm going to come back a better player, but I guess my body will be healed more but who knows," Rose said.
If the Bulls won Saturday, they would open the second round at Miami on Monday. The Bulls, who lost Rose and then Joakim Noah while losing in the first round last year, said he wasn't angry about having more injuries now.
"We've dealt with it all season, we dealt it with last season, it's part of the league, the way it is," he said. "We feel good about the rest of the guys. We've got to be ready to get the job done. We'll play our best game today."
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