Noah’s triple-double too much for 76ers
CHICAGO (AP) — Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau needed just three words to sum up Joakim Noah’s big night on Thursday.
“He was spectacular,” Thibodeau said.
Noah had 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks for his third career triple-double and the Chicago Bulls ended a two-game losing streak with a 93-82 victory over Philadelphia.
“His will from the start of the game until the end was just incredible,” Thibodeau said. “He was everywhere — blocked shots, switching, guarding everyone. Big-time multiple efforts.”
Noah also tied the Bulls record for blocks in a regulation game, previously set by Artis Gilmore in 1977.
“He was amazing,” Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. ”(But) we needed everybody to step up and we did. It was impressive.”
Boozer added 21 points and 12 rebounds while Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng had 15 and 12 points, respectively, as the Bulls completed a three-game regular season series sweep.
But Noah was quick to shrug off superlatives.
“It feels good, it feels really good to play well and win,” he said. “It was a good win for us and hopefully we can build on it.”
But Sixers coach Doug Collins wasn’t as reticent.
“Noah is so lively and he’s so active and he’s just on the move all the time,” he said. “If you don’t get your body on him, he’s just going to be nightmares around the rim. He’s got a great motor.”
Jrue Holiday paced the Sixers with 22 points, Spencer Hawes added 20 points and 15 rebounds while Evan Turner had 12 points.
The loss was Philadelphia’s season-high seventh in a row.
“If we made more shots, we would have won,” Hawes said. “On defense we played well enough, they just made more plays than we did.”
The Sixers rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to get within four points at 75-71 on Hawes’ dunk.
But Nate Robinson hit a jumper and added a 3-pointer following a Noah block — his ninth of the game — to push Chicago’s lead to 80-71.
Noah added a 3-point play with 4:32 to play to restore a double-digit lead at 83-71. Philadelphia never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Boozer opened with eight points and Deng added six as Chicago had a 19-16 first-quarter lead less than nine minutes into the game.
Boozer and Turner each had 10 as the Bulls led 23-22 by the close of the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Chicago’s Noah had back-to-back inside scores, hit a free throw and forced a turnover in a 55-second span as the Bulls went ahead 30-26.
Hinrich fired a perfect pass to Deng late in the quarter and the Bulls forward converted a 3-point play with 3.4 seconds left as the Bulls opened a 45-39 halftime lead.
Holiday had seven points in the quarter and closed the half with a game-high 13 points.
Hinrich scored his first points of the game early in the third quarter with a pair of jumpers as the Bulls maintained an eight-point lead. Chicago opened an 11-point lead as Noah’s 3-point play that gave the Bulls a 53-42 lead.
The Bulls missed eight straight 3-point tries before Hinrich’s long-distance shot gave them a 64-48 lead.
The Sixers found their shooting touch and trimmed the deficit to 68-62 on two Hawes’ free throws with 50 seconds left.
“We were very competitive,” Collins said. ”(But) the Bulls front line was tremendous ... Between Noah and Boozer they had 44 points and 33 rebounds and Noah’s 11 blocks and those guys were 18 for 21 from the foul line. That ended up being the difference in the game.”
NOTES: Bulls star Derrick Rose still hasn’t said when he’ll come back and Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said Chicago was proceeding correctly with Rose’s slow return. “The Chicago Bulls have a tremendous investment in Derrick Rose, you want to make sure this young guy is going to be ready to go. ... With both teams struggling recently, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said it was important to maintain continuity even if there’s a temptation to shake things up. “I think the preparation part is very, very important,” he said. I don’t think you can allow that to slip at all.” ... Hinrich made his second straight appearance since missing three games with a right elbow injury. ... Bulls guard Richard Hamilton sat out Thursday’s game with back spasms and Marco Belinelli started in his place.