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


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.

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

The Bulls kick off their 2016-17 season Thursday night against the Celtics.

We'll have end-to-end coverage all season long. Make sure you're following these accounts for all the information you'll need: @vgoodwill, @MarkSchanowski, @markstrot, @ChuckGarfien, @CSNBulls.

Here are five things to watch for tonight. And don't forget to tune in to CSN on Saturday night as the Bulls host Paul George and Indiana Pacers.

1. The Three Alphas debut

Each of the Bulls' starting guards had their moments during the preseason, but it's admittedly tough to get a read on how well they'll perform when the games mean something. While it won't be entirely fair to judge them on one game - especially against a stellar defensive team in Boston - how the three players interchange with each other will say plenty. Watch for the way they share the basketball, who initiates the offense and, when one gets hot, if the other two don't mind taking a backseat for a handful of possessions.

2. Who takes the reins at power forward?

Fred Hoiberg said that Taj Gibson will get the start against the Celtics, and it's well deserved after his impressive preseason. Gibson is as rock solid and consistent on both ends as they come, but the reality is if the Bulls are going to be successful this year one of Nikola Mirotic or Bobby Portis will need to make a jump forward. The Celtics deploy postman Amir Johnson and stretch forward Jonas Jerebko at the 4, so Brad Stevens will give the Bulls multiple looks that they'll need to counter with the combination of Gibson/Mirotic/Portis.

3. Running of the Bulls

The Bulls are naturally going to push pace with a great initiator in Rondo and two excellent finishers in Butler and Wade. The Celtics played at home against the Nets last night, and four days into the season they're already playing their first back-to-back. It will be interesting to see if Hoiberg and the Bulls put an emphasis on pushing pace against a Celtics team that played 24 hours earlier.

4. How much will Denzel Valentine play?

The Bulls' rookie really only has one real practice under his belt, but he says he feels good enough that he'll suit up Thursday night. In most situations he wouldn't expect to see much playing time, if any. But the Celtics go 10 deep - 10 players played at least 15 minutes and scored eight points - and that may cause Hoiberg to go deeper into his bench than usual.

5. Fred Hoiberg's debut: Pt. II

Fred Hoiberg began his coaching career with a victory over the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The rest of the season didn't go as planned, but with a fresh roster and a year of experience under his belt he'll get another chance to show what he can do. He'll have to balance the Three Alphas, figure out the power forward spot and determine how his second unit works best together. And as far as tonight goes, he'll need to do it against one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. There's plenty of time to evaluate Hoiberg, but a victory in Game 1 would be another good start for him and the Bulls.

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

According to CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill, the Bulls are exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

The Bulls currently have one open roster spot.

Hunter, a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2015, appeared in 38 games as a rookie. He struggled from the field, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from deep. He ultimately lost out on a roster spot this preseason in a crowded Celtics backcourt.

Hunter was the darling of the 2015 NCAA Tournament playing for his father at Georgia State. Hunter hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Baylor to propel the 14th-seeded Panthers to an opening-round win.

Hunter was a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year, averaging 19.7 points per game as a junior.

The Bulls open their 2016-17 season tomorrow night against the Celtics.

Stay with for more updates on this story.