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updated: 3/13/2014 9:54 PM

Rockets coach on defensive player of the year: Give it to Noah

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  • Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Chicago on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

    Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Chicago on Thursday, March 13, 2014.


Asked Wednesday which way he would vote for NBA defensive player of the year, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau admitted he was biased and not the right guy to ask.

Houston coach Kevin McHale, on the other hand, shared his unbiased opinion at Thursday's shootaround: Go ahead and give it to Joakim Noah.

"He (Noah) should be defensive player of the year," McHale told reporters at Moody Bible Institute. "They've been winning a lot just on his energy and effort, his kind of determination and toughness. Those are all qualities everybody appreciates."

McHale's starting center, Dwight Howard, won defensive player of the year three times when he played for Orlando. This is Howard's first season with the Rockets after signing as a free agent last summer.

With all the high-profile performances Noah has had since January, it would be no surprise if he won defensive player of the year and grabbed the spot as first-team All-NBA center. Both of those honors are voted on by the media.

Howard didn't try to campaign for the defensive award when asked on Thursday.

"Joakim, (Indiana's) Roy (Hibbert), myself -- we pride ourselves on defense," Howard said. "Joakim, his energy and intensity on the defensive end makes him special."

Howard tours West Side:

The Rockets arrived in town two days early after playing in Oklahoma City and guard Patrick Beverley gave Dwight Howard a tour of his West Side neighborhood during the day off.

"It was a lot of fun, even though it was very, very cold outside," Howard said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I was happy to be there to meet his grandma and grandpa, and some of the people that he grew up with, some of the stories they would tell me about how he would shovel the snow off the court, be the only one out there working on his game, stuff like that.

"He's pumped up. It's all he's been talking about for the last two months. He's been, 'Hey man, we're going to Chicago.'"

This was Beverley's first game in his hometown as an NBA player. After leaving Arkansas in 2008, he played professionally in Ukraine, Greece and Russia before making his NBA debut with the Rockets last January.

"I haven't played at home in a long time," Beverley said at the morning shootaround. "I'm happy to be here."

Chicago high school memories:

When Houston's Patrick Beverley played at Marshall, his team lost to Derrick Rose's Simeon squad 69-56 in the 2006 state semifinals. Rose, a junior, scored 21 points that day, while Beverley scored 19 before fouling out.

"You get that grit from the Public League," Beverley said in the Houston Chronicle. "I'm a similar defender from high school to what I am now. The Chicago Public League helped me a lot to be where I am now."

Bull horns:

The Bulls have now won 12 of their last 13 games following a loss. … Houston has won 22 straight games when scoring 100 points. Obviously, the Rockets didn't get there Thursday against the Bulls. … Before this game, Houston was 20-3 against Eastern Conference opponents.

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