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