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Monday, April 15, 2013
Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson return

By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and forward Taj Gibson returned from injuries to play limited minutes in a 102-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday.

"I thought both guys were very active," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is not sure if Noah and Gibson will be on a minutes limit for the playoffs. "It was just good to have some depth, to have some guys you could play up front."

Noah had six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes after missing the past four games because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He missed eight games with the injury before returning to play against the Detroit Pistons on April 7 only to re-injure the foot.

"I got to make my free throws," said Noah, who was 2-of-4 from the line. "The game was moving pretty fast. Just try to slow down a little bit and screen better. Overall, I know I can play better. But it was a good first step."

Gibson played 21 minutes against the Magic and scored 12 points. He hadn't played in seven games because of a left knee injury. He missed 10 games with the injury in March but re-injured it after playing against the Washington Wizards, his fifth game back, on April 2.

"The main thing I want to do is just play some defense, get our defense back because our defense has been really awful the last couple of games, contesting shots, getting offside help, and it was good (to be back)," Gibson said.

With two games left in the regular season, Thibodeau said before the game he was encouraged to get two key players back before the playoffs.

"We want to be at full strength," Thibodeau said. "I think that's important. It gives us a lot more balance, offensively and defensively. It allows us to play inside out offensively. And then defensively it adds a lot more size, obviously, which we think is critical."

Derrick Rose's status hasn't changed and he did not play against the Magic, but Thibodeau said he is happy with Rose's progress.

"We haven't had a lot of practice time but he's done a lot of work so that's the important thing and he's got to continue to do so," Thibodeau said. "So if we're not practicing, he's still doing all his rehab stuff so he's getting his work in each and every day which is what he has to do."

Forward Vladimir Radmanovic also missed the game because of a back injury.