Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Tom Thibodeau iron out differences
By JOE COWLEY email@example.com January 21, 2013 12:08PM
Although they didn't talk, Joakim Noah and coach Tom Thibodeau seem to have ironed out their differences from Saturday night, when the Bulls lost to Memphis. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 21, 2013 8:32PM
After being benched for the final 22:53 in the loss to Memphis on Saturday night, and then a quick disappearance from the locker room after, it would seem that center Joakim Noah had some talking to do with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on Monday, just to clear the air.
Or at least hug it out.
Not in the world of Thibs.
“No, he understands,’’ Thibodeau responded after the morning shootaround 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.’’
According to Thibodeau, the first unit was flat, so he made the decision to ride out the crunch-time minutes with Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, leaving starters Kirk Hinrch, Rip Hamilton and of course Noah on the bench.
“Yeah, just a coach’s decision,’’ Thibodeau explained. “We were struggling, we were behind, the group that got in there got us back in there, and it was more of the way that unit was rolling. I just felt we were so flat, that group was either going to win the game or lose the game for us. They were the ones that overcame a big deficit, and that’s usually the case.
“In the first half I always go back with the starters, in the second half, if we’re struggling, it’s going to be the group that’s going well. That’s the way it is.’’
Noah did not meet with the media after the shootaround, but Gibson did and didn’t see any lingering carryover with his coach or teammate.
“He wasn’t edgy at all,’’ Gibson said of Noah. “We had a great walk-through this morning, we were talking, laughing like we always do, running the plays, Thibs was calling out plays. I thought it was a great walk-through for him and our team.
“[Disagreements] happen all year long, but we’re like a family here. We’ve been together for three years, going on four, so guys just put that in the back of their head. We understand that we have one goal, and the one goal is to win games and challenge for a championship.
“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. We let stuff go and get ready for the next game.’’
Here’s how the Bulls need to get ready for Lakers:
1. Kick ‘em while they’re down – This is not your father’s Lakers, or even you big brother’s Lakers. This is a team that comes into the United Center losers of two-straight, just 5-13 on the road, and searching for answers. When the spotlight comes on in crunch-time they have withered. They can score with anyone, evident by the 103.1 points per game [5th in the NBA], but have trouble defending Jayvee teams, allowing 101.6 per game [26th overall]. The Bulls have to keep the foot on the throats.
2. Game-time decision – Luol Deng and his injured right hamstring are a “game-time decision,’’ according to Thibodeau, but the fact that he didn’t participate in the walkthrough was not a good sign. Without Deng, that means that Noah must show up tonight, and they must continue to ride out Carlos Boozer’s hot hand. It might also be time to dust off Nazr Mohammed, who could be in for some big minutes tonight to counter the size the Lakers have up front.
3. Kobe factor – Kobe Bryant is going to get his, and that’s fine. It’s about making sure that Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol don’t. If the Bulls can contain those two, Bryant has shown that his days of carrying an entire team on his back are over. And watch out for Metta World Peace – he’s always a wildcard that can flip a game around.