Joakim Noah didn't get much sleep during the All-Star Game break in Houston, but he could rest easy after going all out Tuesday night. "Joakim was everywhere," coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Bulls' 96-87 victory in New Orleans. Noah stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. His 38-plus minutes led the team. "It felt good to get back to work," he said. "Everybody is excited about the second half of the season." Save for the rehabbing Derrick Rose, the Bulls are whole. Kirk Hinrich returned after missing seven games with an infected elbow, and his fingerprints also were all over this victory. He scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting but had 10 assists with only two turnovers. Thibodeau was impressed with how Hinrich's distribution resulted in starters getting their right number of shots. Noah hit 6 of 11, Luol Deng knocked down 7 of 13 and Carlos Boozer sank 8 of 16. "He did a good job of getting everybody involved," Boozer said. "For being out as long as he was out, (his return) was almost seamless." Hinrich and Noah executed a textbook give-and-go that gave the Bulls a 66-54 lead. And then Hinrich drove, attracted two defenders and fed Noah, who got fouled. Hinrich's enthusiasm spilled into the defensive end, where he stumbled coming off a screen and was called for a foul. He protested with official Sean Wright long enough to get a technical foul, but no damage was done. Ryan Anderson missed the free throw. Hinrich later fed Boozer on a pick-and-roll that ended with an uncontested slam.
Bulls regain intensity with 96-87 victory over Hornets
Chicago Tribune | Feb 20