Noah, Robinson help Bulls grind out a win over the Pistons

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Noah, Robinson help Bulls grind out a win over the Pistons

Perhaps no team deflects more individual praise than the Bulls and while they couldnt have come from behind 17 to defeat the Detroit Pistons 85-82 extending their winning streak over their Central Division rivals to 17 without the collective efforts of the team, its clear that the energy of Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson continues to be an asset as valuable as any they possess.

Down 68-57, Robinson scored nine straight points during a 22-5 run to start the fourth period.

While his shot selection has been questioned at times, his effort, heart and intentions are always in the right place. On nights where he has it going, hes capable of a scoring outburst that only feeds his undeterred confidence.

Thats Nate, Thibodeau said. He made a lot of big time plays for us. Hes not afraid and I like and respect that about him.

Robinson finished the game with 11 points, seven assists and played the entire fourth quarter.

For me, my biggest asset to the game is energy, Robinson said. Thats something that I always pride myself on doing is playing as hard as I can and bringing the energy no matter if the place is rocking, or the place is dead. For us, we needed the lift. I just had to force the crowd to get out their seats and give us a little boost.

Its that Peter Pan theory: you cant fly without happy thoughts, he continued. "For me, I just always think about my kids, even though Im supposed to be focused on the game. For me, any little happy thought I can get. I just feel like Im invincible and unstoppable.

Added Noah on his neighboring locker room teammate: We need Nate to be aggressive offensively. This is not the first time hes carried us offensively in situations like that. I think that the more pick-and-rolls we put him in, especially when were getting stops, than hes able to do his thing. I think everything was about this game was flat. The energy in the building was quiet and Nate came in, did his thing and really got us going. This isnt the first time hes done it. Hes won a lot of ball games for us."

Noah played the entire second half and finished with 10 points and 18 rebounds, while having his hands full with Detroits frontline of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

It was Noahs hustle to save a loose ball from going out of bounds, off a bricked Marco Belinelli shot, to a driving Belinelli for the games winning shot and ensuing free throw.

I stayed with the play, Noah said. The basketball gods were on our side, we got a little lucky. Something thats not really a great play, because if Detroit gets it, its a four-on-five fast break. But I kept it in play and fortunately we got it. I didnt really see it but I had the cheerleaders pom-poms in my face. Marco made the layup to seal it.

The Bulls were so caught up in Belinellis score that they didnt even think to go help up Noah, who stayed courtside, waiting for his teammates to come help him up. It took forever, right? Noah joked about his teammates slow reaction to help him upright.

Incredible, quite frankly, I dont know how he got to it, Thibodeau said of Noahs save. Jo was something. 18 rebounds, he didnt come out in the second half, great hustle plays. I thought our team spirit was terrific. The way that unit was finishing the game, it inspired everybody.

With the coaches votes for All-Star reserves being announced on Thursday, the Bulls have three potential candidates in Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Noah.

Never one to harp on individual praise and recognition, Noah wouldnt say if he felt he had earned a spot, but said he would be honored and only time will tell.

Robinson was more forthcoming.

Definitely. He just plays hard, Robinson said. His game might not look All-Star material, but hes a hell of a player.

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

After a couple weeks of woozy moments, confusing car rides and 11 games of inactivity due to suffering a concussion Bulls forward Doug McDermott will return to action tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

McDermott took a hard fall Nov. 12 against the Washington Wizards while going up for a dunk, hitting his head on the unforgiving floor of the United Center and had to go through the concussion protocol before finally being cleared. It was his second concussion this season, with the first coming on Halloween.

“Good, great, it’s been a long couple weeks, but finally feel good to be able to go out there and compete, so I’m excited,” McDermott said after morning shootaround at the Advocate Center.

The last couple of days after being cleared for contact, he practiced with the Bulls’ D-League team in the attempt to get some rhythm and most importantly, some conditioning after being out for so long.

He was in great spirits Thursday, a sharp contrast to the initial days after the concussion where the simplest tasks became herculean.

“The first week-and-a-half was tough sleeping-wise, just weird symptoms you don’t even realize,” McDermott said. “Just being in cars, going to my appointments was tough at times, some headaches throughout the week. But with a concussion you just have to be true to yourself and true to the doctors. You don’t want to lie about things because it can only make things worse. I’m finally to the point where I’m feeling better.”

McDermott said going to physical therapy or riding on the freeway would trigger vertigo in the first week, but luckily for him, it didn’t last much longer after that. The first concussion of his career took him to different place mentally, and he leaned on Celtics big man Al Horford during that time of confusion and frustration.

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Horford missed a number of games with a concussion he suffered early in the season.

“Talked to him for about 30 minutes,” McDermott said. “He was in the middle of his and I had my second one. We talked about our symptoms and he really took his time and you see his game has been really good since he came back.”

“We're really the only two guys who've had it this year. People don't really understand, it's a tough deal. Basketball can be physical. You see it a lot in football. You gotta be true to yourself, true to your doctors because you don't wanna mess around.”

With the second concussion taking place 13 days after the first, McDermott and the Bulls had to be a lot more careful the next time around. Having one is scary enough but the fall he took in the United Center probably ignited a fear in him that he didn’t know existed.

“Yeah, you have to just listen to your symptoms, but I think with the second one in such a short period of time they wanted to be cautious too, and I did too,” McDermott said. “It’s not like an ankle sprain or a knee deal where you can play through things like that. It’s your brain, so you want to be as sharp as possible.”

The Bulls need any type of reinforcement they can get, especially for the struggling bench. McDermott feels like he can add some confidence or at least put other guys in a more natural order, although that remains to be seen as Nikola Mirotic and Isaiah Canaan have really struggled in his absence — all season, it seems.

“I think we'll get our swagger back too. We've had some injuries,” McDermott said. “Once we get myself and Michael (Carter-Williams) back, we've been rotating guys that aren't used to playing with each other. Once we get some continuity there with that group, things will get better. Adding a shooter like me, it'll take pressure off Niko, take pressure off Isaiah to hit shots. Just having 3 floor spacers out there will really help all of us.”

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Spurs tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com, the only place where you can get the hometown call from Neil and Stacey.

Coverage begins at 8 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Attempting to end perfection. The Spurs have been absolutely electric outside of San Antonio this season, winning each of their first 13 road games to begin the year. That's the second longest streak in NBA history, and the Bulls have actually lost two of three at home. The Bulls will be home underdogs as the Spurs look to make it 14 in a row. The good news is the Bulls have defeated the Spurs at home each of the last two seasons.

2. Battle of the two-way studs. There's a real argument to be made that Thursday's matchup will tout the two best two-way players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is having his best offensive season to date, averaging 24.5 points on 46 percent shooting, 1.9 triples, and averaging nearly 91 percent from the free-throw line. Expect Jimmy Butler and Leonard to be on each other's rear most of the night in what should be one of the most fun 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA.

3. Questions at the point. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is questionable to play with a knee injury. If he can't go, it would be Nico Laprovittola and Patty Mills running the point. For the Bulls, Rajon Rondo is coming off a pair of ugly performances in Bulls' losses to the Mavericks and Pistons (and his suspension against the Blazers). Someone needs to step up at the point, and it could decide Thursday night's winner.

4. Pau returns to the UC. Though it didn't result in much success, Pau Gasol enjoyed two highly successful seasons in Chicago. The stat-stuffer was named an All-Star in both seasons, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games. He's now in San Antonio, filling Tim Duncan's role in the starting lineup. And though his numvers are down from a year ago, he's still capable of putting up numbers, especially against a Bulls' interior that has struggled of late.

5. Getting Doug McDermott back. Dougie McBuckets has been activated to the Bulls roster, and not a moment too soon. Since McDermott suffered a concussion on Nov. 12, the Bulls bench ranks 26th in 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 30th in 3-point field-goal percentage (23.5 percent). Getting McDermott back, even in a small role as he gets his legs under him, will be a major factor against a Spurs team whose offense continues to heat up in December.

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