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updated: 1/18/2014 11:57 PM

Thibodeau praises Noah's spark for Bulls

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  • Bulls center Joakim Noah battles his 76ers counterpart Spencer Hawes for a rebound Saturday night. Noah finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds in the Bulls' blowout victory.

    Bulls center Joakim Noah battles his 76ers counterpart Spencer Hawes for a rebound Saturday night. Noah finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds in the Bulls' blowout victory.
    Associated Press


After a blowout victory over Philadelphia on Saturday night, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau talked about how Joakim Noah sets the tone for the team.

Inside the locker room, Noah also set the tone for whatever it was that follows a big victory.

"I'm just happy we came back after a tough loss to Washington (on Friday)," Noah said. "It feels good. Saturday night, Sunday off, in Chicago. It's a little snowy out there, but we'll make the best of it."

The Bulls romped to their biggest victory of the season in terms of margin. They led by as many as 36 points before dispatching the Sixers 103-78 at the United Center.

Noah finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. He now has grabbed double-digit rebounds in 12 straight games, the longest streak of his career. Noah also is averaging 5.2 assists over the last 10 games.

"Joakim is doing just about everything," Thibodeau said. "Laundry, everything. You can't play any better than he is playing right now in every aspect of the game. The defense has been there all season. The rebounding, off the charts. The playmaking, the decisions, the multiple effort -- he sets the tone for our team."

The best explanation for Noah's string of excellence is he feels good. He may have been mentally devastated by the Luol Deng trade two weeks ago, but his body is in good shape. Noah had a slow start to the season after missing most of training camp with a groin strain and ended last season with persistent plantar fasciitis in his feet.

"I haven't felt healthy like this in a long time," he said. "My feet don't hurt. My body's feeling good. So I'm just trying to take it game by game and just enjoying it."

The Bulls (19-20) continue to play well, having won 10 of their last 14 games. D.J. Augustin added 19 points and 8 assists against the Sixers, while Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The last time these teams met, in Philadelphia on Nov. 2, the Bulls squandered a 20-point lead and lost 107-104. The Sixers improved to 3-0 with that win and the game was billed as a coming-out party for rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams. He piled up 26 points, 10 assists and 3 steals that night. In Saturday's rematch, Carter-Williams hit just 5 of 22 shots to finish with 10 points, 5 assists and 5 turnovers.

More than two months have passed since that initial contest, but it still was relatively fresh in the Bulls' memories.

"When you try to prepare and get ready, you look back at the game you played last time," Kirk Hinrich said. "You're definitely reminded of it. We had the good lead at halftime; we just wanted to make sure we came out and kept our foot on the gas.

"I don't think (the defense was any different). I thought we did a pretty good job, and he (Carter-Williams) probably just had an off night.

A big reason why Philadelphia (13-27) faded so quickly this season is the 1-10 record while Carter-Williams was out with injuries.

"He's impressive," Thibodeau said. "Because of his skill set, he puts a lot of pressure on your bigs. You don't stop him with one guy. (But) Kirk is a fierce competitor. He's going to keep coming the whole game."

Probably the best news for the Bulls -- playing a back-to-back three nights after going triple overtime at Orlando -- is the starters got to take an early seat, with no one playing more than Jimmy Butler's 32 minutes.

•Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls.

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