AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Taj Gibson has played well since the preseason, but after a couple off nights—understandable in the aftermath of losing Derrick Rose for the season—the big man picked it back up in Wednesday’s 99-79 Bulls win over the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Bulls’ top reserve scored a career-high 23 points on 11-for-13 shooting, as well as grabbing a season-high eight rebounds.
“Yeah, I just felt good,” explained Gibson, who made his first seven shots from the field. “I went to the gym with the coaching staff [Tuesday] and got some extra shots up with the coaches. It felt good. They say, ‘You’ve got to put in the work.’ Just went in, got some extra shots and performed.”
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Gibson paid the price for his night, getting three stitches in the head after taking an elbow from Pistons center Andre Drummond.
Thibodeau pleased with Noah’s night
Joakim Noah had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists Wednesday, not anything special for him, but after his recent struggles and having only two points and one rebound at halftime, the All-Star center was trending positively by the end of the evening.
“Jo had two points and one rebound but I thought he was unbelievable in the second half,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Jo is emotional and you can’t take that away from him. As long as he’s channeling it the proper way I think it’s very good for him. We don’t want him to go over the edge, obviously. He’s a key to the team because he can help us in so many ways. It’s not just scoring the ball. It could be his defense, it could be his passing, it could be his hustle plays. He’s always hitting the floor and taking those tough plays, and I think those are the types of things that unite and inspire your team. That gives your team energy. There are balls that he can get to, loose balls that I don’t know if anyone else can get to those and he somehow gets to them. Make two and three and four efforts on an offensive rebound, give us that extra possession, and that goes a long way towards winning. Sometimes it doesn’t always show in a box score, but it shows in terms of winning.”
Deng praises Hinrich’s unsung effort
Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich didn’t have close to the biggest statistical impact Wednesday—the veteran floor general had 13 points, a game-high seven assists and three steals—but the way he runs the show, his gritty defense and his intangibles are appreciated by his teammates.
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“Kirk is huge. I think more than anything, his defense. It was so good today, especially in the second half, and he gets his hands on a lot of deflections. One thing Kirk is always going to do is run the team well and I thought he did a good job today,” said Deng, his longtime teammate. “It’s plays in the game you’ll see he’ll make and it kind of gets everyone going. Whether it’s diving on the floor, taking a charge, he just gets everyone going.