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updated: 1/3/2014 9:19 PM

Gibson knew Dunleavy was a 'tough guy'

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  • Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (34) blocks the shot of Boston Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Chicago. The Bulls won 94-82.

      Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (34) blocks the shot of Boston Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Chicago. The Bulls won 94-82.


When Taj Gibson talked about Mike Dunleavy's mean streak after Thursday's win over Boston, he was just getting started.

Gibson added a story about running into Dunleavy on a New York City subway train roughly 10 years ago. Dunleavy was the No. 3 pick in the 2002 NBA draft after winning a national title at Duke with Carlos Boozer and Jay Williams.

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"I knew he was a tough guy when I saw him on the train in New York when I was in high school," said Gibson, a Brooklyn native. "It was kind of late at night, on the train by himself. There were like 10 of us and we were young, ready to go off to college.

"When we saw him, we were like, 'Dunleavy, what's up?' He didn't even get scared. He was like, 'What's up?' He gave us the head nod. It's stuck with me to this day. It was like on the A-train. I think it was coming from the Bronx, Manhattan. I was really shocked that I saw him on the train. You don't really see NBA players on the train, especially at night."

Gibson said he and Dunleavy talk about that moment sometimes, even though it seems unlikely Dunleavy would remember seeing a high school age Gibson. Coincidentally, Gibson later played with Dunleavy's brother James at USC.

"He's a New York guy. He takes the train in the city and does the commute," Gibson said. "He really walks around the city, plays in the street tournaments. I respect that even more about him. Playing with him now, he has that same sort of grit mentality. If you foul him hard, he's going to foul you back twice as hard."

Asked about the public transit bond, Dunleavy said this: "We're both not afraid to get on the subway in New York. You run into a lot of different characters and Taj Gibson is one of them. It's the best way to get around."

Noah keeps passing:

Center Joakim Noah has led the Bulls in assists the past two games. Coach Tom Thibodeau was asked how a passing big man can affect the offense.

"I think it opens up the basket areas. It sets up your cutting game a little bit," Thibodeau said. "I just think his skill set is so unique and his ability to read and make plays is huge for us. People like playing off him. They know if they hit him and they cut and they're open, he's going to find him. I think that gets your movement where you're hard to guard."

Hawks coach shows patience:

Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer doesn't have any direct ties to Tom Thibodeau, but they have plenty in common. While Thibodeau spent more than 20 years as an NBA assistant before getting a head job, Budenholzer logged 19 seasons as an assistant with San Antonio before being hired by the Hawks last summer.

"I think anytime you work for (Spurs coach Gregg) Popovich; you've been under him or that many years -- he's well-prepared," Thibodeau said. "He's shown that. He was a big part of what he did in San Antonio, so I have a lot of respect for him."

Boozer misses practice:

Carlos Boozer skipped Friday's practice because of a sore right knee, but seems likely to play Saturday against Atlanta. Taj Gibson was a partial participant after taking a hard fall in Thursday's win over Boston and is expected to be fine.

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