(MCT) — CHICAGO—The United Center faithful haven’t forgotten how to use the “MVP” chant.
Dormant all season with Derrick Rose sidelined, Joakim Noah forced its special appearance with a game for the ages.
Noah answered coach Tom Thibodeau’s call for more intensity, leading the Chicago Bulls 93-82 victory over the 76ers with his third career triple-double of 23 points, 21 rebounds and career-high 11 blocks.
It’s the first points-rebounds-blocks triple-double for the Bulls since Artis Gilmore on Dec. 20, 1977, and first game of at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks since Shawn Bradley for the Mavericks on April 7, 1998.
“That’s legendary stuff,” Carlos Boozer said. “I’ve never seen a center do what he did. And we needed every one of them.”
Boozer added a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds, but this night was all about Noah. He became the first Bull with multiple 20-20 games since Charles Oakley posted three such outings from 1985-88 and became the first Bull to have a double-double with at least 20 in two categories since Guy Rodgers’ first triple-double in franchise history on Oct. 18, 1966.
“That was spectacular,” Thibodeau said. “It was such a big effort game from him. His will from the start to the end was just incredible. We had a lot of guys get on the board with him. Lu (Deng’s) rebounding and Carlos’ rebounding was critical also.
“He’s an energy, effort player. When you get an effort like that, that unites and inspires your team.”
76ers coach Doug Collins, whose team has lost seven straight, theorized Noah is inspired to beat the 76ers ever since Noah grotesquely rolled his ankle and exited last season’s first-round playoff series to cheers from Philadelphia fans.
Noah didn’t disagree.
“I really felt before the playoffs started that we were in position to win the championship,” Noah said. “Derrick (Rose) went down and it was very hard on the team. And then getting injured and the way the fans reacted, that was probably one of my biggest motivations in rehabbing my ankle.”
The first season series sweep of the 76ers since 1996-97 ended a disappointing February, just the second losing month under Thibodeau. And more injuries popped up with Richard Hamilton sitting as a late scratch with lower back spasms and Deng taking an elbow from Spencer Hawes to the head late.
Deng said he had no concussion, just a bad headache and some loose teeth.
The Bulls got back to their attacking and hustling ways, outrebounding the 76ers and posting a 17-10 edge in second-chance points.
Jrue Holiday’s 22 points led the 76ers, who failed to score 100 or more for the 12th straight game. That’s the franchise’s longest stretch since the shot clock was introduced in 1954-55.
“I wanted to get (the triple double,) but I wanted to win more,” Noah said.