LOS ANGELES -- Vinny Del Negro believes that Joakim Noah has a chance to make the All-Star team this season. While Noah didn't play up to the standards he has set already this year Saturday night, going 0-for-6 from the field in the Chicago Bulls 101-80 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Del Negro says he still thinks his former center will get a look.
"He deserves it," Del Negro said before Saturday's game. "I thought he was close last season or so; Jo definitely deserves it. Statistically, energy at that position. I'm a big fan of Joakim's, always have been, just because of his enthusiasm and his effort and he's a worker. He brings great energy every night, which is contagious."
Del Negro, who coached Noah for two seasons before being fired after the 2009-2010 season, has always been a fan of the emotional big man.
"Jo's a worker, always has been," Del Negro said. "He plays with great energy, great enthusiasm and he's getting that little jump hook, his shot seems more comfortable and he's just very active. So, especially with a couple guys out for Chicago he's taken more of that scoring role for him and he's obviously more than capable."
Del Negro seemed to be in a very relaxed mood Saturday against his old team -- why shouldn't he be? As he pointed out, the Clippers are having a solid season and that's without veterans Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups.
"Terrific," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of the job Del Negro's done. "He's done a great job here, he really has. I think he's gotten his team to play extremely hard, they're playing smart, they're playing together, I think he's done a great job."
Rose still in LA: Thibodeau played coy before the game as to whether injured star guard Derrick Rose would actually be in attendance Saturday night, but as has been the case throughout the year, Rose's presence was still felt.
"Obviously you're not going to replace a great player like Derrick individually, so for us we have to do it collectively," Thibodeau said. "And it's not any one particular guy or the frontline, it's the entire team, and we understand that. So our success is really going to be based on our teamwork and how hard we work together and how smart we work together and that goes a long way."
Del Negro offered this answer when asked how the Bulls have changed without Rose.
"It's Derrick Rose," Del Negro said. "He's the MVP of the league. You take anybody of that caliber, which are very few, out of a lineup, it's going to change. It's natural. Derrick's just that good of a player."
Rose is expected to continue his rehab in Los Angeles over the next week as he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee.
The last word: Jamal Crawford, on if this Clippers team is the best team he has ever played on:
"It is the best team. And it's weird because if you talk to Chauncey (Billups), he'll say the same thing and they won a championship (in Detroit). If you talk to Grant (Hill), he'll say the same thing and he's been on great teams his whole career. I think it's the best team for all of us."