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Gibson, Thibs on Noah’s benching: No big deal

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer lays up basket front Lakers forward MettWorld Peace first quarter Chicago Bulls-Los Angeles Lakers NBA game

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer lays up a basket in front of Lakers forward Metta World Peace in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Los Angeles Lakers NBA game Monday January 21, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 22, 2013 8:53PM



Taj Gibson didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

Sure, Joakim Noah wasn’t thrilled to be benched for the last 22:53 of the overtime loss Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Noah dashed out on the media after the game, but Gibson said that’s just life in the NBA.

“[Disagreements] happen all year long, but we’re like a family here,’’ Gibson said. “It’s a long season, things are going to happen, heads are going to get butted, but we all love each other and know what’s best for the team.

‘‘We’re men, and one thing about men is you just got to let stuff go. We don’t hold grudges.’’

That’s also why coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t feel the need to have a sit-down with Noah heading into the game Monday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“No, he understands,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if he and Noah talked about it. “The thing is, he’s been around, and the team has to come first. That’s the most important thing. Sometimes that happens, not a big deal.’’

Thibodeau said the first unit was flat, so he made the decision to ride out the crunch-time minutes with Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, leaving starters Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Noah on the bench.

“Yeah, just a coach’s decision,’’ Thibodeau said. “We were struggling, we were behind. The group that got in there got us back in [the game], and it was more of the way that unit was rolling.’’

Honoring Booz

Boozer was named Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 23 points and 14.8 rebounds and leading the Bulls to a 3-1 record.

Thibodeau said the biggest change for Boozer this season is that he’s playing late in games because he has improved defensively.

“I think it’s a combination of things,’’ Thibodeau said, ‘‘but he’s played very well. Defensively, he’s done a really good job.

‘‘Offensively, we’ve got to find ways to get him touches in the fourth quarter, but he’s played at a very high level.’’

Taj’s special day

Gibson was the Bull selected to speak to fans at the United Center before the Lakers game in honor of Martin Luther King.

“Not a day goes by that you don’t think about all the struggles that he and the people before us went through,’’ Gibson said. “So this whole day is real special.’’



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