Noah less concerned with scoring than righting the Bulls' ship

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Noah less concerned with scoring than righting the Bulls' ship

OAKLANDConverse to the beginning of last season, when Joakim Noah was both a league-leading rebounding machine and a legitimate scoring threat, the Bulls centers impact on the floor has been much less prominent in the teams first two games.

Noah didnt reach double figures in either the dramatic Christmas Day comeback win over the Lakers (although he was limited by foul trouble) or Mondays troubling loss to the Warriors. However, dont expect the fifth-year pro to complain.

Jo:

I feel good, said Noah, in a nod to the health issues that bothered him last season. I feel like Ive been working on my game all season. I feel prepared. I know what my role is on this team, so Im just trying to stay positive and when my number is called, be as ready as possible.

When asked to evaluate Noah, his coach offered both measured praise and criticism.

Some good, some not-so-good, Tom Thibodeau explained after the teams practice at the Warriors facility in downtown Oakland, prior to leaving for Sacramento, where they will visit the Kings on Thursday. Its like our whole team right now.

I thought he was active in the last game. I want him to be who he is. I think hes playing really good defense. His defense has really come around. His rebounding was better in the last game, but offensively, I want him to run the floor more. I think he can outrun people and hes a guy who can get us some easy buckets, so I want to take advantage of that.

Indeed, Noahs speed and ability to run the floor when compared to most of the leagues centers gives the Bulls an added benefit in transition, as does his offensive rebounding, when hes finishing effectively around the basket. Like Thibodeau, Noah is more concerned with the Bulls surprising lack of effort against Golden State, one of the rare times the typically highly-motivated squad appeared to rest on its laurels.

Im hoping that it gets better with time, but weve just got to compete harder than weve been competing. It was a great win against the Lakers, but weve still got to improve and play better than we have, defensively and offensively, he said. The more you play together, the better youre going to be and even though were on this team that played a lot of games together, that training camp is to put everything back into place. Were still a work in progress and weve got a lot of work to do.

I think we just need to keep grinding, keep a positive attitude and understand that teams are very good in the NBA, and its not because were the Chicago Bulls that were going to win games. Weve just got to go out there and get better. Losing the way we lost to Golden State, the effort we put out there wasnt very good. Its on us to bounce back and I think well do that, he continued. I think, underdog or not, it doesnt matter. Weve still got to go out there and compete. I think that we can compete harder.

Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki: Growing up 'I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan'

Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki: Growing up 'I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan'

When Dirk Nowitzki was a young teenager growing up in Wurzburg, Germany, there were only a few NBA games on TV each week. And more times than not, in 1991 and 1992, the team seen most frequently was the Chicago Bulls.

It's why Nowitzki told reporters on Tuesday at the United Center that the Bulls were his favorite team as he grew up and learned to love basketball.

"I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan. If there was any franchise I would love to play for back then, it was the Bulls. Obviously Jordan, I was a huge (Scottie) Pippen fan. Pippen was actually my favorite for a long time. Just his versatility, his shooting, his defense, his rebounding, his playmaking.

"So I was a huge Pippen guy. and then later (Dennis) Rodman, (Toni) Kukoc. They had some great, great teams. and back in the day (Germany) only showed one, two games a week, and it was usually Chicago. So, great, great sports town, great history, and it's always fun to play here."

After a successful stint in Germany, playing for DJK Wurzburg from 1994 to 1998, Nowitzki was the 9th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. The Bucks traded his rights to the Mavericks, where Nowitzki has been ever since.

The future Hall of Famer's illustrious career has included an NBA title and Finals MVP in 2011, four selections to the All-NBA First Team, and he's sixth all-time in NBA in history in points. He needs just 307 more points to reach 30,000 for his career.

For what it's worth, the Bulls drafted 28th in that 1998 NBA Draft and selected Corey Benjamin.

Dirk and the Mavericks square off against the Bulls tonight at 7 p.m. on CSN+.

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?

That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.

The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.

The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.

Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?

Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.