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updated: 2/22/2012 11:33 PM

Noah big for Bulls heading into break

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  • Joakim Noah dunks against the Bucks during the second half Wednesday night. The Bulls center got his first career triple-double in the victory.

      Joakim Noah dunks against the Bucks during the second half Wednesday night. The Bulls center got his first career triple-double in the victory.
    Associated Press

 
 

Before Wednesday's game against Milwaukee, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau talked about how important it was for his players not to check out mentally before the all-star break officially begins.

Well, no one does an all-star break vacation any better than Joakim Noah, and the energetic center will celebrate his 27th birthday Saturday at an undisclosed tropical location.

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Noah was locked in against the Bucks, though, and collected his first career triple-double by piling up 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Bulls head into the break with a 27-8 record after rolling to a 110-91 victory at the United Center.

"The only reason why I was able to do it was because they were trying to get the ball out of Derrick (Rose's) hands," Noah said after the contest. "When they put two on Derrick, I'm just making plays off that.

"So it's really because of him that I'm able to make plays. I'm not creating off the dribble or anything like that."

However it happened, Noah collected the first triple-double by a Bulls center since Artis Gilmore piled up 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks against Atlanta on Dec. 20, 1977.

"It was all luck," teammate Luol Deng joked. "No, Jo played great. For a big man, he's great at making decisions coming down the floor. A lot of big men will get a little hesitant having the ball in their hand, but he's comfortable with it."

Noah completed the triple-double before the third quarter ended, which was fortunate because there was no reason to put him on the floor in the fourth.

The last piece he needed was a basket, and he got it in style, with a dunk off a pass from Deng and a 3-point play. Noah finished the third quarter by knocking down a baseline jumper with 1.6 seconds on the clock.

"Yeah, my teammates were telling me about it," Noah said when asked if he knew he was getting close to the milestone. "It feels good. I'm not going to lie."

Thibodeau was asked if he would have sent Noah back onto the floor if there was still one statistical category to accomplish.

"No. They're hard to get, but you play to win," Thibodeau said. "I was just pleased with the way he played. I thought they did a good job with Derrick in the pick-and-roll. Jo ended up being the guy who got the ball. I thought he made a lot of good plays.

"That's a unique skill set he has, the ability to get the ball in the middle of the floor and make good reads and create easy offense for you."

After a slow start, Noah has averaged 11.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in February. Had he played this well all season, there's a good chance he would be joining Rose and Deng in this weekend's All-Star Game.

"I'm not a coulda, shoulda, woulda kind of guy," Noah said. "I'm very excited about what I'm doing (during the break) and I'm very excited about the second half of the year that's coming up.

"It's going to be a heck of a night. There's going to be a team function, and I'm not saying where."

Rose finished with 16 points and 7 assists in his second game since returning from a back injury. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 20 points and hit 9 of 12 shots, while Deng scored 16 and Ronnie Brewer 15.

Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee (13-20) with 20 points.

Backup point guard C.J. Watson missed his second straight game because of a concussion.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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