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Noah's block party leads Bulls past Sixers

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Philadelphia coach Doug Collins is learning to accept that fact that Chicago center Joakim Noah will be fired up any time he faces the 76ers.

Noah piled up 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocked shots, leading the Bulls to a 93-82 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday at the United Center. It was the first triple-double featuring blocked shots for Chicago since Artis Gilmore did it on Dec. 20, 1977.

"Make no bones about it, he wants to beat us after what happened in the playoffs last year," Collins said. "He rolled his ankle and it was a tough thing for him. So when he sees us, he's been very, very good all season long."

Noah sprained his ankle in the third quarter of Game 3 in Philadelphia and didn't play again in the first-round series, which the Bulls eventually lost in six games.

"No question, that was probably one of my biggest motivations, just rehabbing my ankle," Noah said. "Before the playoffs started last year, I really felt like we were in position to win the championship. Derrick (Rose) went down (with a knee injury) and it was very hard on the team. Then getting injured and the fans, the way they reacted (with cheers). I used that as motivation."

Fans at the United Center were tuned into Noah's numbers, letting out a loud cheer when he collected blocked shot No. 10 midway through the fourth quarter. It was his third career triple-double. The 11 blocks tied a franchise record for a regulation game, set by Gilmore.

"That's legendary stuff," teammate Carlos Boozer said. "I've never seen a center do what he did tonight. He was amazing."

Boozer added 21 points and 12 rebounds for Chicago, and Kirk Hinrich scored 15 points and Luol Deng 12.

Deng was shaken up in the final minute of the game after appearing to take an elbow to the chin while defending Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes. Deng said in the locker room he had a headache and some loose teeth, but expects to be fine.

Guard Jrue Holiday led the 76ers with 22 points, while Hawes collected 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Both teams have been struggling. The Bulls were 4-8 in February. Philadelphia extended its losing streak to seven in a row and has dropped nine straight on the road.

The Sixers trailed most of the night, but did limit Chicago to 38.6 percent shooting from the field. The Bulls stretched a six-point halftime lead to as many as 16 in the third quarter.

Philadelphia managed to pull within 75-71 with 6:39 left after a dunk by Hawes. The Bulls responded with a runner and 3-pointer by Nate Robinson, followed by a lay-in and three-point play from Noah to make it 83-71 with 4:47 remaining.

"Our defense was good enough to win," Collins said. "We held them to 38 percent. We had 1 more field goal, 1 more 3-pointer and they beat us by 14 points at the foul line, so it's sort of the same old story."

Thursday marked the 10-month anniversary of Derrick Rose suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. The injury occurred against Philadelphia in the opening game of last season's playoffs.

"I thought for sure he was going to play tonight," Collins said before the game. "He got hurt against Philadelphia, come back against Philadelphia, game on TNT. I could just see him running out like the Adidas commercial tonight."

At the same time, Collins understood why Rose has been patient with his recovery. As usual, Rose worked out on the floor before the game, but there is still no word on when he might play.

"I had knee injuries," Collins said. "Maybe sometimes I tried to come back too soon and it set me back."

NOTES: Richard Hamilton was a late scratch for the Bulls because of lower back spasms. Marco Belinelli, who averaged 15.3 points in 12 previous games as a starter this season, stepped in at shooting guard. ... Collins expressed surprise that his postgame comments after Tuesday's loss to Orlando garnered so much attention. "I guess I'm trending," Collins said before Thursday's game. "It was interesting. I thought I was just talking about what I expected. I think as a coach, that's what you do. There was nobody called out. I just spoke. I've never been a guy that lost a game and competed to your best and was ever disappointed." ... Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain ended his NBA record streak of 35 consecutive made field goals on this date in 1967. ... The Bulls swept the season series against the 76ers (3-0) for the first time since 1996-97.
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