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Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson might return against Magic

Bulls forward Taj Gibscenter Joakim Noah vie with Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard for rebound second half Chicago Bulls 103-89 loss

Bulls forward Taj Gibson and center Joakim Noah vie with Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard for a rebound in the second half of the Chicago Bulls 103-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Monday February 11, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 14, 2013 9:18PM

MIAMI — With each dribble and jump stop from center Joakim Noah during pregame warmups Sunday, it was clear help is on the way.

Noah, who has missed 12 of the Bulls’ last 13 games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, continued to make progress, and coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah might return to action on the road Monday against the Orlando Magic — provided there are no setbacks.

Noah might not be returning alone, either. Forward Taj Gibson (sprained ligament in left knee) is set to return, too, new knee brace and all.

‘‘Yeah, that’s the main thing I felt,’’ Gibson said when asked if getting a couple of regular-season games in
before the playoffs was key for his timing and conditioning. ‘‘I don’t want to just wait until the playoffs. I want to get some reps, get some contact. It’s different when there’s nobody out there guarding you. I’m really looking forward to getting some contact and just going up and down.’’

The biggest problem Gibson is having is getting used to the brace. When he came back from the knee injury the first time, he was wearing just a sleeve on the knee to protect it. But the knee buckled April 2 against the Wizards, setting him back a couple of weeks, so extra protection has been added.

‘‘It’s terrible, terrible,’’ Gibson said of the brace. ‘‘But I’ve got to adjust to it and get used to it. I’ve been wearing it around all day, but it still [stinks]. It doesn’t let you really fully bend your leg.’’

After the game against the Magic, the Bulls will close the regular season at home Wednesday against the Wizards. Thibodeau has been saying all season that playing well and being healthy will be key going into the postseason. Both have been question marks for the Bulls the last six weeks.

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