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Joakim Noah flames fans in Bulls’ 96-89 win over Sixers

Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah reacts after scoring second half an NBA basketball game against Philadelphi76ers Wednesday Dec. 12 2012 Philadelphia.

Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah reacts after scoring in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, in Philadelphia. Chicago won 96-89. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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Updated: December 12, 2012 11:44PM



PHILADELPHIA — Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is wrong.

He often insists that no one in the league is going to feel sorry for the Bulls whenever Derrick Rose’s injury is brought up.

Not true.

Coach Doug Collins of the 76ers not only feels sorry for Rose and the Bulls, but he said he couldn’t wait for Rose to return this season, even if it means his team would be worse off in the Eastern Conference standings.

Then again, considering Collins watched his team lose to a Rose-less Bulls team 96-89 Wednesday for a second time this season, maybe that sympathy will weaken.

Just not yet.

“First of all,’’ Collins said, ‘‘you take one of the most dynamic players in the league off your team, ask Tom how much fun it is at the end of games not getting shots when you can put that ball in Derrick Rose’s hands, and he can either get the shot for himself or get it for someone else. … You can’t replace that. This is not a league of running plays; it’s a league of making plays. The teams that make the most plays win, not the teams that run the most plays, and Derrick Rose is one of the best playmakers in the NBA.’’

Collins went as far as to say the NBA will be a much better place once Rose returns.

“Derrick Rose is a shining star and a bright light in the NBA, and we miss him,’’ Collins said. “He plays to win. He’s a hometown kid who loves being in Chicago and representing the city. He’s got a great family, and I want to see the best players on the floor.

“Will that affect us? Yeah, but that kid needs to be out there playing basketball. He’s special.’’

With or without Rose, the return to Philadelphia since losing to the 76ers last season in the playoffs was “special’’ in a different way. At least for center Joakim Noah.

Not only did Noah score a team-high 21 points, but he taunted 76ers fans at every opportunity.

“I thought about it all summer; I just couldn’t wait to come back here,’’ Noah said. “When I went down last year [with an ankle injury in the playoffs], people cheering and stuff, I felt like that was real disrespectful, and it was definitely motivation for me to work even harder this summer.’’

And his days of taunting Philadelphia fans didn’t end Wednesday, either.

“Yes, no question,’’ he said when asked if he was intentionally playing the villain. “And I’m going to do it for the rest of my career every time I come back here.’’



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