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Joakim Noah’s career night leads Bulls over Pistons

Bulls center Joakim Noah tries block Greg Monroe’s shot first half Friday night. | Duane Burleson~AP

Bulls center Joakim Noah tries to block Greg Monroe’s shot in the first half Friday night. | Duane Burleson~AP

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Updated: January 9, 2013 6:14AM



AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Carlos Boozer took up residency near the cerebellum.

Luol Deng was causing havoc in the medulla.

And Joakim Noah? Well, he was just about everywhere else inside the Pistons’ heads.

Thanks to a career-high 30 points and 23 rebounds from Noah on Friday, the streak that won’t die didn’t.

It appeared to be on life support when Detroit was up by 17 points in the second quarter, but then it was as if the Pistons remembered whom they were playing.

With the 108-104 victory, the Bulls (10-8) have won 16 in a row against Detroit, including eight consecutive games at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

But this night was all about Noah.

“It feels great to play well and to win,’’ Noah said. “I can’t believe I … it’s crazy to have numbers like that, but I’m happy we won and just got to move on.

“I knew I was missing a lot of tips at the beginning of the game. In some arenas they count as rebounds, and in some arenas they don’t. I’m happy they counted.’’

Noah became the first Bull with a 30-20 game since Marcus Fizer did it in April 2004.

He also became only the fourth player in the last 25 seasons to have 30 points, 23 rebounds and six assists, joining Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett.

“[Noah] played really well in every area — defense, rebounding, scoring, passing, playmaking, mental toughness,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said.

‘‘He got us out of the hole, great all-around game.’’

The Bulls needed it, too.

Thibodeau’s teams usually don’t give up 30 points in the first quarter, and his teams rarely fall behind by 17 points with 4:30 left in the first half.

Noah, however, did everything he could to will his team back into it, hitting a five-foot bank shot that cut the Pistons’ lead to five by the half.

“It really started in the first quarter because there was no defensive tone to the game,’’ Thibodeau said. “And then the second quarter was an abomination. We let guys get to their strengths; we gave them everything.

“You do that, you’re going to dig yourself a hole, and we did. Then we battled back.’’

Kirk Hinrich’s three-pointer with 3:35 left in the third quarter gave the Bulls the lead and all the momentum.

The night was even more special for Noah because former teammate Ben Wallace was being honored by the Pistons.

“To have him there, it means a lot,’’ Noah said. “I learned a lot from him. Even though we lost a lot of games, we spent a lot of time together.’’

That’s why Noah was hugging Wallace after the game.

“He said I should have had more rebounds and more points,’’ Noah said.

“He said I should have had 35. He’s a hater, but that’s why I love him.’’



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