After the Bulls 95-83 win Monday night over the Lakers at the United Center, Joakim Noah was in a good mood.
He contributed 13 rebounds and a season-high six blocked shots to the victory and helped hold Lakers counterpart Dwight Howard to an eight-point, nine-rebound evening.
But on top of Noah feeling good about the win, the charismatic center stepped up to the plate and told his side of the story about Saturday night, during which he was benched for the final 22 minutes and 53 seconds of the Bulls overtime loss to Memphis.
Thibs would never, ever talk bad or say anything bad about us in the media, but that was all me. He took me out and I was emotional about it, I was expletive off and I probably said some things that I shouldnt have said, Noah acknowledged. But you learn from it and you move on, and its just the mindset that I wanted to have today. Just move on it from it. Its so many games and I didnt want it to linger.
I have the ultimate respect for my head coach, he continued, noting that any reconciliation between himself and Thibodeau was between the two and not something hed share with the media. It was my fault. I shouldnt have said the things that I said. We moved on and we got a big win tonight. Im happy about that.
For his part, Thibodeau lauded Noahs performance, joking that Noah would agree with the notion that benching him Saturday provided him with extra energy MondayNoah quipped, Sometimes I feel like Im ready to go and I have a bad gamebut on a more serious note, he asserted that he believed the centers preparation for the game tipped him off to the fact that hed have a good night.
The way he came into practice this morning and the way he started the game, I knew he was ready to play. He was terrific. Hes doing a good job for us. Hes just got to keep improving, he said. The road for us isnt going to get any easier and I dont want our guys to exhale, and start feeling good. This road is going to be a tough road and weve got to keep battling, concentrate on the improvement, get ready for the next game.