Tom Thibodeau is hoping Taj Gibson will take the 6th
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter March 22, 2014 11:54PM
Taj Gibson, guarded by 76ers center Byron Mullens, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks Saturday. | Nam Y. Huh/AP
Updated: April 24, 2014 10:17AM
Joakim Noah will get some MVP votes, but he has no chance to win.
Taj Gibson for the Sixth Man award, however, has some legs.
Gibson is averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds and has emerged as a go-to offensive and defensive player in the fourth quarter.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t into individual awards, but he was hoping voters were taking notice of Gibson.
“I think that the biggest thing for him is what he has contributed to us winning,’’ Thibodeau said Saturday. “I hate to lock into individual awards. I think players are recognized when the team has success. He’s been a huge part of it. The way he has played all year, I’m hopeful that he’ll be recognized.
“The things that he does for us are all team-oriented. He plays great defense, challenges shots, guards everybody, runs the floor hard, sets great screens, does his job, gets deep post position. When the second guy comes, he makes the play. He has gotten comfortable in pick-and-roll situations.
‘‘He’s had a terrific year for us. And I hope he does get recognized.’’
From the same newspaper that erroneously reported in January that Thibodeau and the Knicks “already have a deal in place’’ for next season comes the latest reach of a story. This time the New York Daily News has the Bulls expecting Derrick Rose back by the time the playoffs start.
Not only would this go against everything the organization has said the last month, but it also makes little sense. At best, Thibodeau wants to get Rose practicing before the team is eliminated from the playoffs at some point.
With only three weeks left in the regular season, the idea of getting Rose in game shape, then just throwing him into a high-intensity playoff game is almost risible.
Noah was averaging 2.4 turnovers but had eight the last two games heading into Saturday. Thibodeau was asked if Noah was getting too cute with his passes, and he said it’s about decision-making.
“The thing that he has to do is he has to read how the defense is playing him,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘At times he’s unselfish to a fault, where he’s looking to make the play, and they’re sitting on the pass.
‘‘If they’re sitting on one thing, he has to go to his counter. And I think he will.’’