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Vinny Del Negro gives his endorsement to Joakim Noah as an All-Star

Bulls center Joakim Noah defends against drive by Clippers’ Matt Barnes Saturday night. | Jae C. Hong~AP

Bulls center Joakim Noah defends against a drive by the Clippers’ Matt Barnes on Saturday night. | Jae C. Hong~AP

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The facts: 8, Ch. 9, 1000-AM.

Updated: December 19, 2012 4:01PM

LOS ANGELES — Vinny Del Negro was able to speak about the Bulls on Saturday.

And not one shot fired.

The Los Angeles Clippers coach, who spent two seasons with the Bulls from 2008 through 2010, had a much different attitude last May, when he went off on his former organization in a Yahoo! Sports article, particularly as far as vice president of basketball operations John Paxson was concerned.

“All that [bleep] that I had to deal with John and everything, it was a total cluster[bleep],” Del Negro told the website. “Listen, I understand the business: I hadn’t coached before, and my first job was in Chicago, where I had absolutely no [management] support.”

But on Saturday, it was all compliments, especially as far as one of Del Negro’s former players was concerned.

Del Negro had Joakim Noah in the center’s second year in the league, and said that the level he’s now playing is All-Star caliber.

“He deserves it,’’ Del Negro said of Noah being an All-Star this season. “I thought he was close last season or so, and Jo definitely deserves it. Statistically, energy at that position, but I’m a big fan of Joakim’s, always have been just because of his enthusiasm, effort. He’s a worker. He brings great energy every night, which is contagious.’’

Call to Butler

Second-year guard/forward Jimmy Butler is starting to have his role defined, getting the nod off the bench in the final seven minutes or so of the first half in order to supply some defense, as well as some energy.

“My confidence is high because this is what I love to do and I think I can do it each and every day,’’ Butler said. “My teammates’ confidence is very high in me, so that makes it even easier for me to do my assigned job.”

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