Noah, Deng named All-Star reserves

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Noah, Deng named All-Star reserves

The Bulls will have two representatives in the NBA All-Star Game for the second consecutive year, as Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were named Eastern Conference All-Star reserves, it was announced Thursday evening on TNT.

"Im extremely excited to be recognized as an All-Star for the first time, Noah said in a statement released by the team. Its more of a team honor than an individual honor, because it would not have been possible without my teammates and coaches. I look forward to representing my teammates and the Bulls organization during All-Star Weekend.

The sixth-year center was named an Eastern Conference reserve based on averaging career-high numbers in scoring (12.2 points per game), assists (4.0), blocked shots (2.1), minutes (38.3) and free-throw percentage (76.9 percent).

Noah, a two-time college champion at Florida, is also regarded as an early-season candidate for the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and even rival Kevin Garnett of Boston, the East's starting center have recently supported the candidacy of Noah, who is viewed as one of the NBA's premier rebounders, as evidenced by his 10.9 per-game average and the 18 rebounds he grabbed in Wednesday night's 85-82 win over Detroit at the United Center, which included a save of an offensive rebound, leading to Marco Belinelli's game-winning basket.

Deng, who will make a repeat trip to the annual exhibition, which takes place Feb. 24 in Houston, leads the league in minutes per game at a career-high 39.8 a night and also averages 17.4 points per game to lead the 25-16 Bulls, currently the Central Division leaders and the fourth-place team in the East.

The small forward, a second-team NBA all-defensive team selection last season, when he made his debut All-Star appearance, is also widely considered one of the league's top players on that end of the floor and the Bulls' top individual defender.

A versatile, all-around talent averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, Deng has missed the team's last three contests with a strained right hamstring, but hit a game-winning shot in overtime to beat the Raptors in Toronto last week in the last game he was able to finish, though he initially suffered the injury that evening.

Another Bulls player who was considered an All-Star candidate was power forward Carlos Boozer, last week's Eastern Conference player of the week and a two-time Western Conference All-Star when he played for Utah, was not selected to play in the game.

Joining Noah and Deng as Eastern Conference reserves are Miami's Chris Bosh and first-time All-Stars Tyson Chandler of New York, Jrue Holiday of Philadelphia, Kyrie Irving of Cleveland and Paul George of Indiana.

The Western Conference reserves are San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Memphis' Zach Randolph, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State's David Lee and first-time All-Star James Harden of Houston.

The starters, voted in by the fans and announced last week, are Boston's Garnett and Rajon Rondo, Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and New York's Carmelo Anthony in the East, while Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard of the Lakers, Clippers duo Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and the Thunder's Kevin Durant are the West's starters.

Western Conference roster
Chris Paul, PG, Los AngelesKobe Bryant, SG, Los AngelesKevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma CityBlake Griffin, PF, Los AngelesDwight Howard, C, Los AngelesRussell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma CityJames Harden, SG, HoustonTony Parker, PG, San AntonioDavid Lee, PF, Golden StateZach Randolph, PF, MemphisLaMarcus Aldridge, PF, PortlandTim Duncan, PF, San Antonio
Eastern Conference roster
Rajon Rondo, PG, BostonDwyane Wade, SG, Miami
LeBron James, SF, Miami Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Kevin Garnett, PF, BostonKyrie Irving, PG, ClevelandJrue Holiday, PG, PhiladelphiaChris Bosh, PF, MiamiTyson Chandler, C, New YorkJoakim Noah, C, ChicagoLuol Deng, SF, ChicagoPaul George, SF, Indiana

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

It was hard to tell who was more excited Sunday afternoon: the Bulls players or the 400 kids who stopped by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry as the team passed out Christmas gifts for kids who reside in the Chicago family housing development.

Robin Lopez was carrying about Benny the Bull, much to the surprise and delight of many kids who were in attendance, while Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo took photos and passed out gifts to every child.

Rondo established roots in Chicago long before becoming a Bull, but has become entrenched in the months since signing with the franchise, being a part of the 17th annual holiday party.

“It’s definitely an honor. An honor to be a Bull,” Rondo said. “Since Day 1 when I got here I thought they were the best organization as far as giving back to the community, and it shows. They do it without hesitation.

“Very welcoming. The people have been great. The kids have been here since Day 1 supporting us as well. It’s very exciting.”

Bulls volunteers served lunch provided by Papa John’s, Coca-Cola and Edy’s Ice Cream, as the holiday party is one of the 30 events the Bulls are organizing as part of the team and NBA Cares’ “Season of Giving.”

“It’s no problem for any of us,” Lopez said. “Look at Raj, look at Jimmy, they’re having a blast out there. They’re having as good of a time as the kids out there.”

Being a California native, the newfound snowfall added to the atmosphere for Lopez.

“This really feels like Christmas,” Lopez said. “I can feel the spirit inside with the kids and the looks on their faces when they walk in and see the toys, they see Jimmy Butler and they’re so excited to be a part of it.”

Whether it was Barbie Dreamhouses, or Nerf basketball rims, the kids were ecstatic to see the Bulls and to pick out the toys being distributed by the Bulls’ stars.

“Very humbling. Over 400 kids. And every kid comes through all smiling and excited,” Rondo said. “Some of them don’t get toys all year and this time of year is about giving. I’m very humbled.”

Butler has been around Bulls Charities since being drafted in 2011, so although this is old hat, he hasn’t lost any of the spirit that comes with doing events like this year after year.

He posed with kids for photos and cracked jokes to the younger basketball fans.

“Feels good. I just like being here. It’s what this time of year is all about, seeing these kids smile,” Butler said. “I love kids, I love this city, I want everybody to be happy all the time. However I can make that happen, especially around Christmas and the holidays, I’ll do.”

Lopez is quiet to many who see him on the floor, but his eyes lit up around the kids and made Benny the Bull his personal prop by picking him up and carrying him through the museum.

“Every time I see it, it’s a wonderful feeling. To think I’m a small part of it, I can’t begin to describe it,” Lopez said. “Any opportunity I get to work with kids, that’s always easy yes in my book. I’m a big kid at heart. Any time I can go play, I’m in.

“It’s indescribable. I got so many great gifts as a kid, and blessed in so many ways. Just to be able to give back in any facet, that’s an easy yes.”

Sunday's event leads up to Monday's Chicago Bulls Charities Night at the United Center. The Bulls host the Portland Trailblazers at 7 p.m. on CSN.

Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

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Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

The Bulls are looking to bounce back Monday night against the Blazers, with coverage on CSN beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live.

And once the game gets underway, make sure you're tuned in as we and other affiliates participate in Chicago Bulls Charities Night.

Throughout the game we'll be highlighting the work that the Bulls organization has done in the Chicago community this past year, including taking part in more than 200 programs that the team says has impacted more than 87,000 Chicagoans.

You too can make an impact by checking out the Bulls Charities silent auction, going on until Dec. 6.

You can also make a donation of any size to Bulls Charities to be entered into a raffle to win a basketball autographed by this year's Bulls team.

Also, Bulls Charities will be hosting a ping-pong tournament next month to raise money. Winners of the tournament will get a chance to play against the Bulls! Learn more about the event, which will take place at Spin, here.

Learn more about Bulls Charities and the work the team does in the community here.