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updated: 2/14/2014 8:09 PM

Bulls rotation pays dividends against Nets

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  • Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce, center, drives to the basket as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, left, and forward Carlos Boozer guard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.

      Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce, center, drives to the basket as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, left, and forward Carlos Boozer guard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.

 
 

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he never seriously considered not starting Carlos Boozer against Brooklyn on Thursday.

Boozer returned from three games off with a left calf strain and an easy argument could be made that Taj Gibson deserved to remain the starter. Gibson averaged 22.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the three games, while the Bulls recorded two of their highest-scoring first quarters of the season.

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Everything worked out fine against the Nets. Boozer (15 points, 10 rebounds) played well and Gibson was strong off the bench, scoring 7 of his team-high 16 points during the final 3:22 of the first quarter after checking in.

"That's also the value of Taj," Thibodeau said. "I know Taj can play great as a starter. I know he can play great coming off the bench. It doesn't take him five minutes to get going, get adjusted. As soon as you put him in, that motor's running. He's ready to roll. I like that aspect.

"Taj can play short minutes. He can play long consecutive minutes. He's in great shape. He's prepared himself well. You can't say enough about all the things he's doing for us."

Meanwhile, the Nets' three-guard starting lineup backfired, with the Bulls building a 45-27 rebound advantage. At the start of the game, Joakim Noah and Paul Pierce guarded each other on both ends of the floor.

"The rebounding was the difference tonight," Thibodeau said after the game. "The depth up front, we really have three starters (Noah, Boozer and Gibson) and they all have to sacrifice for the team and I think that's one of our strengths."

Kerr says Taj the top reserve:

Maybe ex-Bulls guard Steve Kerr is biased, but the TNT analyst suggested Taj Gibson deserves a postseason award.

"I want to pump up Taj Gibson for sixth man of the year," Kerr said during the broadcast. "We usually give it to the scorers, the (Manu) Ginobilis and Jamal Crawfords, but Taj Gibson is the best sixth man in the league this year."

Future cloudy to Noah:

Joakim Noah is the Bulls' lone representative at Sunday's all-star game in New Orleans. When asked about the second half of the Bulls season following Thursday's win, Noah had a good line about not looking ahead.

"I'm a live-in-the-moment kind of guy," Noah said. "So I'm really happy we won tonight. I'm going to enjoy my night tonight. I'm going to enjoy my night tomorrow night and enjoy my night the night after that. And then I'll worry about the second half of the season."

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