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Sunday, February 12, 2012
Noah back on track for Bulls

By Nick Friedell

BOSTON -- As far as Tom Thibodeau is concerned, Joakim Noah has found his mojo once again. After struggling to find his groove throughout the first month of the season, Noah has responded with a recent string of solid performances over the last couple of weeks. Sunday afternoon was no exception as Noah scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

"He's back to where he was at the [beginning of] last season, prior to his injury," Thibodeau said before the game. "He's playing with a lot of energy. He's rebounding the ball extremely well. He's running the floor. He's making multiple effort plays. He's anchoring the defense. He's playing a complete game right now, so we've got to continue to have him do that"

No issue with shot selection: With the Bulls down by three points, C.J. Watson put up a three point attempt with just 27.6 seconds that would have tied the game. The shot came quickly and appeared to be put up in a little traffic, but Thibodeau said he had no issue with Watson's decision.

"That's the way the play is set up," Thibodeau said. "That's the first option if you get a good look at it. I want him to be aggressive with it. It didn't work out."

Was that a good look?

"For C.J., he makes those shots," Thibodeau said. "I'm not going to second guess that. I want him to be aggressive when he comes off. And he was. If it's there, if not, there's another option to it. But I didn't have a problem with that."

Deng's wrist has more tape: Luol Deng wore more tape on his wrist than he has since coming back from two weeks of rest because of a torn ligament, but he didn't think that was the reason he struggled so much on Sunday. Deng was just 3-for-12 from the field.

"I know I didn't shoot the ball well," Deng said. "I'm never really worried about [the matchup]. Maybe early in my career. But there's a lot of other things I could do to help the team. They're a good defensive team. I had some looks that normally go in for me, but they didn't tonight."

Thibodeau also tried to downplay the wrist injury, although Deng was wearing a huge ice pack on the wrist after the game -- as he has done at several points over the past few weeks since the injury.

"It's normal," Thibodeau said. "Some days are going to be better than others. But I don't think it was his hand."

The last word: "It was a great road trip. We want to win every game. At the same time, we got to spend a lot of time together off the court. [That] kind of helped us. But it's a lot of games we came out and played great. We wanted to end it better, even though we didn't play great. We still gave ourselves a chance to be in the game," - Deng