At least once a week, Joakim Noah talks about how much he loves playing at the United Center. But there is one habit of the fan base he could live without -- MVP chants.
They've been coming with regularity in recent weeks and will continue if he keeps putting up stat lines like he did Saturday night against Sacramento with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks.
"I don't like it," Noah said after the win. "That's not what's important to me. I'm just all about this team right now. We've been through so much. It's not about individual accolades. It's about us and everything that we've gone through. That's what this season's about to me."
Noah's chances of winning MVP are pretty much zero. But a top-five finish is starting to seem realistic, as are defensive player of the year and first-team all-NBA.
"I think it's great for him," teammate Taj Gibson said of the chants. "Especially where we come from, Brooklyn or New York. All the ups and downs Joakim's went through with his career. Now he's on this stage and hearing MVP chants, it's great, because that shows the amount of work he's put in, the amount of heart he has."
Cousins keeps cool:
Things were relatively calm Saturday with Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, who leads the NBA in both fouls per game (3.8) and technicals (15).
Cousins had a disagreement with Mike Dunleavy last season when Dunleavy played for Milwaukee. After the Kings beat the Bulls in Sacramento on Feb. 3, Cousins called Dunleavy a "clown."
"Ever since the Houston game (when Cousins was ejected Feb. 25) we've talked to DeMarcus about trying to finish out the season without any more drama, if you will," Kings coach Mike Malone said before the game.
"I'm not really concerned about Mike Dunleavy, I'm concerned about the Chicago Bulls, how well they're playing and the challenge that we have in this game."
Butler playing with pain:
Jimmy Butler revealed Saturday he has been nursing sore ribs since taking a shot from Miami's LeBron James last Sunday. It must not be too bad, since Butler played well against James and helped limit Houston's James Harden to 8 points Thursday.
"LeBron got me on a drive to the basket," Butler said. "He let me feel that one. It hurt like heck, too, right into the ribs."
This probably goes without saying, but the Bulls will again wear green uniforms for St. Patrick's Day on Monday against Oklahoma City. The Bulls and Boston are the only NBA teams wearing St. Pat's outfits this year. … Sacramento is the only team in the NBA with three players averaging 20 points: DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. In contrast, the Bulls' top scorer is Carlos Boozer at 14.2 points.