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posted: 2/12/2013 12:04 AM

Bulls' Noah keeps battling on with injury

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Joakim Noah made it through his third straight game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Against the Spurs on Monday night, Noah played 38 minutes and pulled down 15 rebounds, to go with 7 points and 5 assists.

He didn't seem to be on any sort of strict minutes limit, playing the entire first and third quarters. Once again, coach Tom Thibodeau did not use backup center Nazr Mohammed.

Noah didn't do much during the morning shootaround. He might spend practices on the exercise bike for a while.

"It hasn't gotten any worse, so I'm happy about that," Noah said Sunday of the injury. "Everybody reacts to it differently. It's frustrating because I want to be out there at practice and be out there with my teammates. But you've got to do what's right."

Pop reflects on rehab:

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who played without leading scorers Tony Parker (knee), Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring), talked before Monday's game about the challenges Derrick Rose may face when finally returning from ACL surgery.

"It's different in every person, but everybody's got to feel confident that the injury is healed and they can do what their brain tells them they can do," Popovich said.

"There's a little bit of adjustment between brain and body, to feel confident they're doing the right thing. We're always erring on the conservative side."

At the same time, Popovich doesn't think the Bulls will have to adjust much as a team since Rose is a point guard with a defined role.

"If he comes in and does his thing, everybody figures it out," he added. "He doesn't need to defer to anybody. He's got to set the tone and get ready for the playoffs."

Tim gets slim:

People keep waiting for a San Antonio slide now that Tim Duncan is 36, but it hasn't happened. The Spurs started Monday with the NBA's best record, while Duncan is averaging 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, though he didn't play against the Bulls.

"He's played at a good level," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's not Tim Duncan at 21 years old, but he really takes care of himself. If you look at him, he's thin. He's svelte. He's like rawboned. It's unbelievable how slim he is.

"All summer long, he does a little bit of everything -- he boxes, he swims, he definitely watches what he puts in his body. He works out, flexibility and things, all summer long.

"He can actually pivot and change directions and do some things. He's on a pace to have his best blocked-shot season this year. So his attention to detail and his focus is what he's done. It's all about what he's done himself. That's a tribute to him."

Bull horns:

Monday's game was broadcast in China as part of the NBA's Chinese New Year celebration. Kirk Hinrich missed his sixth straight game with a right-elbow problem. On Friday, the Bulls were the first Eastern Conference team in more than a year (Jan. 25, 2012) to win in Utah. Monday's crowd included Toni Kukoc.

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