- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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"I was waiting for that one," he said. "Not enough, too much, what's next?"
Thibodeau knows how much criticism he has been taking for leaving Boozer and Noah on the bench in the fourth quarter of games early in the year. That's why he was so happy to finally be able to talk about how they affected a win for a change. Together. At the same time.
Boozer and Noah combined for 22 points and 20 rebounds, leaving Thibodeau and his players full of hope for the future.
"Jo and Booz, they were looking for their shots but playing smart," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "Making the extra pass ... they just made the game simple."
Boozer and Noah finally seemed to get things together on Friday night and looked, at times, like the dominating force that the organization had hoped they would be. That's why their was such a relief in the Bulls locker room late Friday night.
"As long as we win, that's all we care about," Boozer said. "We really want to win, man. I think we've been playing great. Look at our record, it speaks for itself. The other thing about that is that we're getting better. You look at our group of guys, we get contributions from everybody. We're not like a one-man team. We're not a two-man team like other teams. We're a deep team. Everybody contributes."
For Noah, just being on the floor was a step in the right direction. The emotional center really seemed to take the benching hard and clearly wanted to prove to his coach that he could stay on the floor in crunch time.
"I think I did all right," Noah said. "I feel like I could still do better, but I'm not going to lie, it just felt good to be out there and compete."
Thibodeau appeared to be just as relieved as his big men. He knows that Omer Asik and Taj Gibson have been solid in their roles, but he also understands how important Boozer and Noah are to the success of the Bulls' season.
"Look, we really feel the depth of the club is the strength up front," Thibodeau said. Even tonight, as well as Carlos and Jo played ... you need quality bigs to hold the fort. And Omer and Taj, every time you call on them, they're ready. And they're hard guys to score on."
Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined for 22 points and 20 rebounds.