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Thursday, January 23, 2014
Opening Tip: Taj Sixth Man Worthy?

By Nick Friedell

CLEVELAND -- Taj Gibson isn't a boastful type of guy. He plays hard, he plays to win and he plays to back up his teammates. He proved that again in Wednesday night's 98-87 victory against Cleveland, scoring a career-high 26 points and making 11 of his 15 attempts from the field.

Gibson's solid play has been a key to the Chicago Bulls' recent resurgence and it's a reason why the veteran forward admits he would like to be in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Taj Gibson
Bulls forward Taj Gibson is hoping his play will garner some votes for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
"I'd like to think so," Gibson said. "I'd like to look at ... a sixth man as a guy who helps the team in any kind of situation. I play defense, I rebound, do a lot of different things to help my team. I'm not just looking at scoring, even though my scoring has improved.

"It's all about helping your team. And that's why I look at being the sixth man as a guy that chips in, does it all, not just score."

Gibson is averaging a career high 11.7 points this season and continues to garner praise from his teammates and coaches.

Toko looking for time: New acquisition Tornike Shengelia didn't see any action in Wednesday's game, but he is happy to be playing for the Bulls after being dealt from the Brooklyn Nets for Marquis Teague.

Shengelia described his game this way after Wednesday morning's shootaround.

"Real physical," he said. "I can penetrate. I'm working on my shot. I can play 3, 4. I can post up, penetrate, pass the ball."

As for his thoughts on the Bulls, Shengelia was impressed from afar.

"They had a lot of energy," he said. "It doesn't matter if they're up [or not], they're fighting. That's the type of team I like, the type of player I am."

Augustin stepping up: D.J. Augustin scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half and is continuing to play well as the Bulls face going without Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) for an extended length of time.

Like his teammates, Augustin is just happy to be in a good situation.

"Just going out there and just having fun," he said of his mindset. "Playing free, doing what Coach wants me to do, and I'm playing with great guys. So they make it easy for me."

The last word: Gibson, on the trash talk between Deng and his former teammates:

"Oh, yeah, it was a lot of trash talk. At one point I switched on him and was like, ‘Lu, I know every move you want to do. I know you want to pump fake and make me jump in the air. I know all your moves.’ Next play, he’s like, ‘All right. I’m going to turn it up. I’m about to play even harder.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, Lu.’ But it was just crazy trash talk. But it was good."