After a lackluster first half in Minnesota on Wednesday, Joakim Noah inspired his teammates the same way he has all season -- by doing a little of everything.
Noah collected his fourth triple-double of the season, leading the Bulls to a 102-87 victory over the Timberwolves at the Target Center. It was the Bulls' sixth straight win and they're down to four left in the regular season.
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Noah piled up 15 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 2 blocks. The four triple-doubles actually ties him for the most in the NBA this season with Indiana's Lance Stephenson.
"When you talk about leadership. What is leadership? It's more by what you do than what you say," coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters when asked about Noah. "I think when you make great effort, great hustle plays, those things unite and inspire your team. That's what makes him who he is. That's why he's so good."
This game featured a couple of Bulls trademarks. One is balanced scoring, with six players in double figures. D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 21 points, while Kirk Hinrich added 16, Mike Dunleavy had 15, Jimmy Butler 14 and Taj Gibson 13.
The Bulls trailed 53-48 at halftime, then did their usual job of clamping down on defense. Minnesota (39-39) scored just 34 points in the second half and was never closer than 5 points in the fourth quarter.
One statistic not characteristic of the Bulls was 3-point shooting. They hit 11 of 21 from long range on Wednesday, with Augustin going 4 for 7 from behind the arc, while Butler was 3 for 6. At the start of the night, the Bulls ranked 24th in the league in 3-point percentage.
After the game, most of the talk focused on another versatile performance from Noah.
"For Jo, it's hard to measure all that he does for your team," Thibodeau said. "When you see him make three or four or five efforts on the same play, is there a stat for that? No. When he swings the ball quickly to somebody where he doesn't get the assist. There's not a stat for that. But all those things lead to winning."
With the victory, the Bulls (46-32) remain tied with Toronto for the No. 3 seed in the East. If that doesn't change, the Bulls would lose the tiebreaker because the Raptors will be a division winner.
Brooklyn lost at Orlando on Wednesday, which means the Bulls' magic number for clinching homecourt advantage in the first round dropped to one. The Bulls can secure no worse than the No. 4 seed by beating Detroit on Friday.
In other playoff positioning news, Indiana moved a half-game ahead of Miami for the No. 1 seed, while Charlotte pulled even with Washington for the No. 6 spot and the Bobcats own the tiebreaker.
Newcomer Ronnie Brewer did not see action in Wednesday's game. The Bulls may re-sign veteran point guard Mike James on Thursday and could add another player before the playoff rosters are due.