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updated: 2/1/2011 9:13 PM

Del Negro's Clippers on a roll

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Blake Griffin has received most of the attention, but ex-Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro deserves some credit for turning around the Los Angeles Clippers.

After a 5-21 start, the Clippers have gone 14-7 since Dec. 16 and have won nine straight home games.

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The Clippers managed to beat Charlotte and Milwaukee in the last two games without leading scorer Eric Gordon, who is out with a wrist injury.

"I think he's done a great job with them," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Del Negro. "They're playing hard. They're playing unselfishly. They've gotten a lot better since the start of the season."

Del Negro was fired last May after leading the Bulls to consecutive 41-41 seasons.

"Vinny's got some good players," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "This is a tough game for us."

Gibson makes soph squad:

Taj Gibson will make a second appearance in the rookie challenge game during all-star weekend.

Gibson was chosen for the sophomore squad, joining Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, San Antonio's DeJuan Blair, Golden State's Stephon Curry, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka and Portland's Wesley Matthews.

The rookie roster includes the Clippers' Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe, Washington's John Wall, Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, New Jersey's Derrick Favors, New York's Landry Fields, Minnesota's Wes Johnson, Detroit's Greg Monroe and San Antonio's Gary Fields.

Noah cast off:

Joakim Noah was out of the cast, but his surgically repaired right thumb still was heavily bandaged Tuesday at the Berto Center. That didn't stop him from working on some left-handed dunks.

"He just basically did some conditioning, some shooting, some dummy offense, some closeouts," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "That's been about it. Not too much more. I'm hopeful that he can do a lot more than that (on the road trip)."

Thibodeau expects Noah to return after the all-star break, which would mean a Feb. 23 game at Toronto.

Thibodeau takes honor:

Tom Thibodeau was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for January, when he led the Bulls to a 12-4 record.

New Orleans' Monty Williams was the West coach of the month. Thibodeau turned down the Hornets job last summer before being hired by the Bulls.

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