'Point-center' Noah earns second career triple-double

965997.png

'Point-center' Noah earns second career triple-double

Death by point center, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, is a sight to behold.

It kills you, the Maywood, Ill., native said after his teams 100-89 loss Tuesday night to his hometown Bulls at the United Center. Joakim Noahs terrific. Hes such a great passer. With Rose out, hes their point guard. He makes their decisions. I bet 10 times in the first half, the play clock runs down, he flashes to the ball and makes the play, either by scoring or with his passing. Hes just an extremely high I.Q. basketball player. Ive said it for years now and its getting higher and higher.

HIGHLIGHTS: Noah, Robinson lead Bulls over Celtics

When told of the former NBA point guards praises, Noah responded, DocI appreciate it.

I always tell everybody Im a point center anyway, but I always feel like I can pass the ball and I feel more comfortable with the offense. We have a lot of people who can score the ball in different ways. Lus a great cutter, Carlos catches almost any pass I can throw it almost anywhere, hell catch it so just everybody. I think it was a great team effort and weve just got to keep going, he continued after his 11-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist outing, the second triple-double of his NBA career. It feels great to play well and to win. Everybodys happy right now. I feel like were getting so much better as a team and even against the elite teams in the NBA, were competing against everybody and we have some tough games coming up, but lets enjoy this one tonight and get ready for New York.

Noah isnt big on statistical accomplishments, at least not discussing them with the media, but privately, he spoke of being inspired by watching the likes of retired NBA center Vlade Divac while growing up specifically in the 1996 Olympics, in person and being tutored by former Bull Brad Miller (ironically, Divacs replacement in Sacramento), one of the better passing big men of recent vintage.

Teammate Nate Robinson approved of that sentiment.

You guys are over here comparing him to Vlade Divac, which is a great comparison because he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, he can do everything. Jo is versatile. I love playing on the side of Joakim, he said. Jo plays hard, man. I feed off his energy every time Im out there with him. Hes an energy guy and thats something that a lot of coaches would love to have, a guy like Jo.

"He had a hell of a game, a triple-double. I was teasing him in the game, Jo, you need two more assists. Pass me the ball! He just plays the game for the love of it. If you watch him play, he plays with his heart on his sleeve, very emotional player. Me and him are kind of similar with our energy, so thats something that me and him cherish. I always tell him to bring the energy and thats what we do.

RELATED: Energetic Robinson sparks Bulls

Taj Gibson pondered the question of how many current NBA centers have nightly triple-double potential and could come up with only one, a player who the Bulls faced the previous night, Memphis Marc Gasol, except, Joakim is more athletic and he really can handle the ball.

Hes really New York when you look at him, the way he dribbles the ball. Before practice, he dribbles with a heavy ball to get his handles right and when he dribbles the ball, hes so fluid, and he just looks for players, continued Noahs fellow native New Yorker. Every time I see him at the top of the key or anywhere dribbling the ball, Im always ready to shoot and he always finds me.

Joakim did a phenomenal job of just distributing the ball.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred: His skill set is so unique and it gives you the opportunity to play through the elbows more, get to more of a cutting game and then, hes very effective in the pick-and-roll. But he played with great energy. He just made the team function well on both ends of the floor.

Even after a big win and his individual achievement, however, Noah displayed the social conscience that has made him so beloved in the Windy City. If you havent noticed, hes shelved his trademark finger guns celebration after knocking down his Tornado jumper, in the wake of the recent school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Noah told CSNChicago.com: It wasnt just what happened in Connecticut. You just have to be kind of compassionate about whats going on, man. We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and youve just got to be sensitive to that. I love this country. This country did so much for me.

"But I think its important to be more critical and we have issues. I feel just as American as I do French and the issues are complicated, but youve got to be sensitive and a lot of kids are dying. In Chicago, a lot of kids are dying in the streets, so thats why Im not doing that anymore.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Here are some of the top Chicago sports stories from

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Bulls erase recent struggles, hand Spurs first road loss of season

Joe Maddon breaks down Wade Davis vs. Aroldis Chapman as Cubs ramp up for another World Series run

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Cubs unveil championship Trophy Tour