CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah broke his silence on the Luol Deng trade after the Bulls' fifth straight victory Saturday night, 103-97 over the Bobcats.
The wait proved worth it.
"The trade definitely hurt, but we have to move on," Noah said. "I feel confident in this team. We're working really hard. A lot of people say this is a business and all that. But this game is more than a business to me. I put everything I have into this. And I feel like Lu was the same way.
"Everyone has a different job. I'm not mad at anybody, I'm not mad at the organization or anything like that. It's just that my brother isn't here anymore. I just needed a little bit of time to digest that."
Noah answered "yep, yep, I think so" when asked if he believes management still is trying to win a title. He said both executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman talked to him and their message was that the Bulls aren't tanking.
"They're not out there on the court; they're not on the plane," Noah said. "They don't know how much Lu meant to me personally. But like I said, I'm not mad at anybody.
"I don't have to be happy with the decision that they made. Everybody has a job to do. At the end of the day, trading Lu is something I won't understand. But I have to live with it. And I have to go on the court and give everything I have."
That Noah is doing. The Bulls are 3-0 since Deng was moved to the Cavaliers and Noah is averaging 13.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in that span.
On Saturday, as the Bulls were doing their best to blow a 15-point, third-quarter lead, Noah scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, which he played in its entirety. He added 14 rebounds and three blocks. Carlos Boozer and D.J. Augustin also had double-doubles.
"Big baskets, big rebounds, blocks," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He played a great game with great energy throughout."
In hitting the century mark for the first time since Dec. 21, the Bulls quietly have won eight of 10. They did so without Jimmy Butler, who succumbed to a bruised left thigh he suffered Friday night in Milwaukee.
Augustin's 20 points led seven players in double figures, and he added 12 assists.
Noah said he's proud of the adversity the Bulls have overcome in recent years, including losing Derrick Rose in back-to-back seasons.
"The guy selling the newspapers on the streets, cold outside, sees me driving by, he's excited. He's like, 'Let's go Bulls. Get it done tonight.' I feel like I play for that guy," Noah said. "When I look at the top of the arena, teams call timeout, and I see that guy who looks this big and he's up cheering and jumping up and down, that's the guy I play for.
"To me, that's what the city represents. There are a lot of hardship and adversity in the city. When I play basketball, I want people to be proud of their team."
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