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Thibs sees greatness in LeBron James

Carlos Boozer battles for rebound position against LeBron James. Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

MIAMI -- LeBron James didn't have enough juice to knock off the Chicago Bulls on his own Friday night, but that doesn't change the way Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau feels about the reigning MVP. Having been in the NBA for over two decades, Thibodeau understands greatness when he sees it and he knows the Heat star is one of the best that's ever played the game.

"The guy's had a remarkable career when you think about it," Thibodeau said Friday morning. "And I think each year he's gotten better. And when you look at his characteristics, of course the talent is critical, but you look at his intelligence, his work ethic, those are the type of guys that always get better. So I think along with his experience I think each year he's learned and he's remained hungry, adding to his game, which is the mark of greatness -- the ability to do it year after year.

“When you really study what he did in Cleveland, they didn't lose because of him. He always performed at an extremely high level, in the playoffs, whatever. He just probably didn't have enough (around him) at that particular point. But obviously here the quality of their depth has really put them at the top."

Rebounding in a major way: After being outrebounded in five straight games, Thibodeau's bunch dominated the Heat on the glass all night. The final tally was 48-28 and it was the difference in the game.

"We got smashed on the glass," James said.

Thibodeau has been preaching about rebounding since he came to Chicago and it was obvious his team took that message to heart once again on Friday night.

"Like Thibs has stressed, we have to get back on our grind rebounding the ball," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "In the last two games we've rebounded the ball real well, especially tonight we really dominated. A lot of close tip-ins, a lot of aggressive in-traffic, hard-nosed rebounds. We understand that we have to do our job, especially me. Have to step up especially with my new contract, and I'm just trying to do what I can."

Bulls center Joakim Noah knows the rebounding statistics will be a focus the next time the two teams play, but he doesn't care.

"I know (Heat coach) (Erik) Spoelstra's going to come (in and say stuff to his team)," Noah said. "I know what's going to happen. He's going to get them hyped for next game because we kicked their (butt) on the glass and they're going to try and make it a physical game. That's cool. That's fine."

Noah disagrees with flagrant: Noah couldn't believe he was whistled for a flagrant foul against James in the fourth quarter.

"That was crazy," he said. "But the referees are part of the game and they got to look at it on the screen and they thought it was a flagrant."

Noah asked reporters what they thought of the call and was asked if he got an explanation from the officials.

"They said I choked him," he said.

The last word: Noah, on how he is feeling after missing Wednesday's game because of the flu.

"Winning cures everything. I feel good."