(MCT) — CHICAGO — It’s hard to describe with complete accuracy the celebratory gesture Joakim Noah has unveiled sporadically to replace his imaginary six-shooter routine.
Hands upraised, he shakes them as if they’re too hot to handle.
Whatever the case, Noah had plenty of opportunity to use it Tuesday night at the United Center when the emotional leader posted his second career triple-double, leading the Bulls to a 100-89 victory over the Celtics.
Noah’s 11 points, 13 rebounds and career-high-tying 10 assists continued to bolster his All-Star credentials on a night the Bulls needed a bounce-back effort in every way. He reached his complete feat assisting on Taj Gibson’s jumper with 8 minutes, 7 seconds remaining and took a seat to a nice ovation nine seconds later.
“I don’t really think about stats,” Noah said. “There’s nothing better than playing well and winning. But I always tell people I’m a point center.”
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “His skill set is so unique. It gives you the opportunity to play from the elbows more and get to a cutting game. He was very effective in the pick-and-roll and played with great energy. He made the team function at both ends.”
Luol Deng’s 21 points, Carlos Boozer’s 21 points and 12 rebounds in just 31 minutes and strong efforts off the bench from Gibson and Nate Robinson also boosted the Bulls, who shot 50 percent with 48 points in the paint.
Thibodeau had implored the Bulls to play with more pace after scoring just 71 points Monday night at Memphis, the team’s lowest output since Jan. 30, 2008. And Deng helped them blast out of the gate with 14 first-quarter points, including 8-for-8 from the free-throw line as the Bulls consistently attacked the rim.
Overall, the Bulls connected on 21 of 24 free throws for 87.5 percent and have improved that department dramatically from last season. They rank third in the league at 80.4 percent.
Robinson scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls pulled away late after the Celtics closed to within three points late in the third. Robinson sank all five of the Bulls’ 3-pointers, missing just two attempts, and also wowed the crowd with his first dunk attempt, albeit a missed one in traffic on a fast break.
“I take pride in trying to bring energy every night,” Robinson said.
Visibly fighting through a sore ankle he rolled, Gibson provided 13 points and five rebounds as the Bulls outrebounded their first opponent in four games. Afterward, Gibson said he’s confident he won’t miss time.
Rajon Rondo’s 26 points led the Celtics.
“They were clearly the tougher, more physical team,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “They took us out of everything with their effort.”
Noah, who posted his first triple-double on Feb. 22 of last season against the Bucks with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, is all about effort. And at 36:37, he failed to break the 40-minute mark for the first time in eight games.