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updated: 3/2/2014 7:14 PM

No stopping Bulls' Joakim Noah

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  • The Bulls' Joakim Noah recorded his fifth career triple-double, setting a franchise record for assists by a center with 14 and adding 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Bulls pounded the Knicks 109-90 at the United Center on Sunday.

      The Bulls' Joakim Noah recorded his fifth career triple-double, setting a franchise record for assists by a center with 14 and adding 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Bulls pounded the Knicks 109-90 at the United Center on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Bulls are turning the basketball world upside down right now.

Center Joakim Noah is now the best distributor on the team. While collecting his fifth career triple-double against New York on Sunday, Noah also set a franchise record for assists by a center with 14.

Noah added 13 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Bulls to an easy 109-90 win over the Knicks at the United Center. The outcome was never in much doubt after the Bulls jumped to early leads of 16-1 and 25-6.

Any sympathetic feelings sent to Carmelo Anthony regarding the miserable state of the Knicks are well-deserved. Anthony finished with 21 points, but he was nearly outscored by Bulls counterpart Jimmy Butler, who scored 19.

The Bulls set another record Sunday, finishing with just 3 turnovers, a franchise low, to go with their 30 assists. Yes, it was the Knicks playing defense, but still impressive to finish just one mistake short of an NBA record for fewest turnovers.

"A couple of our players were disputing a couple of the turnovers," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "At the end of the day, I worry about winning and losing. I love the fact that we're playing together and sharing as a team. I think when you do that and get a group that make the type of commitment that they've made to each other, something special can happen."

When asked about his passing prowess, Noah deferred to his teammates. This was the fourth time since Feb. 6 Noah recorded double-figure assists.

"I think it's just my teammates trusting me and giving me the ball at the top of the key," he said. "I'm touching the ball a lot and it's giving me confidence that my teammates are looking for me to make plays and I feel comfortable doing that."

Thibodeau had a different take on the skills required to become a high-assist center. According to Bulls stats guru Jeff Mangurten, the 14 assists were the most by an NBA center since 1986.

"He's a very intelligent guy," Thibodeau said of Noah. "He'd probably be mad if he heard me say that. He wants to keep that a secret. That's what makes him so good. His intelligence, his knowledge, it makes him even quicker than he is. He sees things ahead of time.

"But we have a team full of guys like that. Knowledge is quickness. If you see what's coming, you're going to be a step quicker."

Among the other highlights on Sunday were D.J. Augustin snapping out of a recent slump with a game-high 23 points and fans at the United Center celebrating the debut of Jimmer Fredette.

In the previous four games, Augustin hit just 7 of 37 shots (18.9 percent). On Sunday, he drained 7 of 10 shots and 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

"When I come off the pick and roll, they're not going under," Augustin said of his defenders. "They're riding me over the top and blitzing me on pick and rolls. So it's harder for me to score now, but I'm just trying to make adjustments and watch more film."

Fredette checked in to a loud ovation with 3:06 left and drained his first shot attempt, a 21-foot, pull-up jumper. He later missed a 3-pointer. Even though he'd been on the team for a few hours, the Bulls bench took great joy in Fredette's initial points.

"We feel like we're the hungriest team playing in the NBA and when you've got that feeling -- we've got a ways to go, but it feels good," Noah added. "When our young boy (Derrick Rose) comes back, we're ready. I want a ring. I want a ring so bad and I know that one day our time will come."

Noah turned his right ankle early in the third quarter, but stayed in the game. In the locker room, he admitted it was sore, but doesn't think it's as bad as some other sprains he's suffered.

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