Joakim Noah admitted that his near triple-double wasn’t deserving of being the legitimate feat in Thursday night’s 94-82 Bulls’ victory over the Celtics at the United Center.

The All-Star center finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, one dish shy of recording his fourth career triple-double. But toward the end of the contest, with the Bulls clearly heading toward an easy win, it became obvious that Noah’s teammates were gunning for him to get the achievement, something frowned upon when it doesn’t happen naturally, in the course of a game.

“I think probably, I don’t know, three minutes to go,” Noah said of when he learned that he was close to recording the triple-double. “It’s not really good to play basketball that way, where you’re focusing on your stats. It’s not that cool. But I tried to get it. Jimmy tried to force the shot at the end. It’s not a good look.”

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, however, refused to admit it was apparent that his players were trying to get Noah the honor.

“The end of the game, obviously we’ve got to do better and we were trying to run through him, too, because of the ball pressure,” the coach said, deflecting the question. “I was calling for what we were running. Now, we didn’t execute it. When they’re putting two on the ball in the backcourt, he’s very good at pushing the ball up and I don’t want to play slow there. I don’t want him to hold the ball where they can come and re-trap. He’s shown throughout his career that he can go and make a great play and get you the easy basket.”

But when asked directly whether he apologized to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens for the perception, accurate or not, that his team was playing for statistics, Thibodeau’s response was a bit more indignant.