Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said he’s kept an eye on Marquis Teague from a distance since the second-year point guard was traded to the Nets.
“A little bit, yeah,” Thibodeau acknowledged after the Bulls’ morning shootaround at the United Center, where his team will face Brooklyn in the two teams’ final game before the All-Star break Thursday night. “I hope it works out for him. Marquis is a young player trying to find his way. I think some of those veterans will be very good for him. I like Marquis.”
Teague has appeared in six games for the Nets, averaging 3.7 points in 8.3 minutes per game.
Thibodeau fond of Brooklyn duo from Celtics days
Nets veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are playing new positions — center and power forward, respectively, in Brooklyn’s small-ball lineup — and have smaller roles than they’re used to, but the future Hall of Famers will always have a huge fan in Thibodeau, a Celtics’ assistant coach when Boston won the 2008 NBA Finals.
“I think the fact that we won a championship together, we’re tied together forever. I’ll never forget what those guys did for me and my career. I’ve got great respect for them, for the way they’ve handled their business throughout their career,” the coach gushed. “They’re very serious-minded, they play to win. They were terrific, and I think their willingness to sacrifice for each other and for the team, it was really what led to the championship there.”
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Bulls’ All-Star center Joakim Noah, who grew up idolizing Garnett, but has clashed with him since becoming a professional himself, still respects the former Farragut Career Academy star.
“Great player, scores in a lot of different ways. You’ve got to match his intensity. Just go at him,” Noah said. “I don’t think my game changes when he’s on the court, but he’s a great player. Somebody who can really shoot the ball, spread the court.”
Noah praises teammate Gibson
Like everybody else, Noah has taken notice of Taj Gibson’s breakout season and dominant play as of late. Gibson has evolved into the Bulls’ top offensive option, whether he starts or comes off the bench when Carlos Boozer is healthy, and the two defensive-oriented New Yorkers have developed a remarkable chemistry on both ends of the floor.
“He’s killing. Taj is killing and it’s really good for our team. He’s one of the leaders of this team. He brings it every night. He’s getting a lot better, too. A lot more comfortable on the block and I think that when you see a guy working on his game like that every day, it just makes everyone else work harder on the team and I think we can be even better as a team, and that’s exciting,” Noah explained.
“Taj is playing a lot, so he’s a lot more comfortable on the court. That’s normal. The more experience you have, the more comfortable you are and I think it’s great, Booz coming back, hopefully tonight and I think that if everybody just keeps grinding, it’ll be a fun playoffs.”