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updated: 2/18/2014 10:26 PM

It's back to work for feel-good Bulls

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  • Guard Jimmy Butler and the Bulls kick off the second half tonight when they visit the Toronto Raptors.

      Guard Jimmy Butler and the Bulls kick off the second half tonight when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
    Associated Press

 
 

Tom Thibodeau watches plenty of game film. So with some free time during the NBA's all-star break, he stuck with a familiar activity.

"I'm at the movie theater. That's where I live. That's where you can find me," Thibodeau said with a laugh. "The Wolf of Wall Street," very good. "Lone Survivor," very good. I don't know what to do with all my time."

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Skipped the "Lego Movie," huh? Of course, it goes without saying Thibodeau more time to watching game tape than fictional films.

"I got a chance to look at some things we did in the first half, get ready for the second, get some relaxation," he said. "It was a good break."

With all-star weekend over, the Bulls got a chance to visit an unfamiliar place -- the Berto Center. Players still work out often at the Bulls' suburban practice facility. But Tuesday was the team's first actual practice in Deerfield since Jan. 9.

Thibodeau has been giving the team time off unless there is two or more days between games, and that has only happened recently on the ice-show road trip. The Bulls have been conducting most game-day shootarounds at the United Center this season.

"Good to have regular practice. Guys recharged (during the break), so we're looking forward to the challenge," Thibodeau said. "Coming off a break, you want to get used to handling the ball again, playing at game speed. So we did a little bit of everything -- some defense, some shooting, ballhandling, scrimmaging, special situations."

Joakim Noah was the Bulls' lone representative in the All-Star Game, and he ended up playing the entire fourth quarter as the East rallied to snap a three-game losing streak against the West.

"I had a great time. Now it's back to work. I'm glad to be back in the Chi," Noah said. "It felt good to get the win. I feel good that I was in the game. The intensity definitely picked up a little bit (in the fourth quarter) and I'm happy we won."

Noah had much more to say about the second half of the season. The Bulls have been another feel-good story this season.

Even after losing Derrick Rose to another knee injury and trading top scorer Luol Deng to Cleveland, they came out of the break just 1 game behind Toronto for third place in the Eastern Conference. They'll play the Raptors for the final time this season on Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bulls were seven below .500 on Dec. 19 and have gone 15-7 in 2014. Whether they can avoid any more serious injuries and keep rolling is the biggest question for the second half. They'll face three of the better teams in the East -- Toronto, Miami and Atlanta -- over the next four games.

"I think we ended the break pretty well. I think we're playing good basketball right now," Noah said. "It's not time to exhale right now. We've got to keep pushing and then the fun starts.

"I'm very proud of the way the team is competing right now. I think we can still get a lot better. We're not trying to take anything for granted, just enjoy playing in a great environment, the United Center. Playing for the Chicago Bulls, something I think nobody should take for granted.

"Have no regrets -- when it's all said and done, just do your best."

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

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