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Luol Deng out tonight against Pistons

Taj Gibson may start in his place.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls small forward who plays a key role on both ends of the floor, is out for tonight's against the Detroit Pistons with a sore calf, according to media reports. There has been no official replacement announced for him in the starting lineup, but indications are coach Tom Thibodeau might elect to go with Taj Gibson.

Gibson, traditionally a power forward, would allow the Bulls to match up well against the Pistons big starting lineup that features Josh Smith at the small forward position. It would also allow the Bulls to keep reserve scorer Mike Dunleavy on the second unit.

Gibson also played a starring role when these two teams met earlier this season, scoring 23 points to go with eight rebounds in the Bulls' victory.

Losing Deng is another big blow to Chicago's already severely depleted offense. Deng, as usual leading his team in minutes, is the team's top scorer. He's averaging 19.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists so far this season. He was also a key factor in the Bulls' win against Detroit in late November, scoring 27 points to go with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and no turnovers.

The Bulls will also be without Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.