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Basketball / Sports

Joakim Noah leads Bulls in a romp over 76ers

CHICAGO -- Downtown Chicago, consider yourself warned.

"Sunday off. Saturday night in Chicago," Joakim Noah said with a smile. "It's a little snowy out there, but we'll make the best of it."

The Bulls enjoyed a rare laugher Saturday night at the United Center, posting their largest margin of victory this season with a 103-78 blowout of the 76ers.

And Noah continued his All-Star push with another monster game of 21 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. That's his career-best 12th straight double-digit rebounding game.

"He's doing just about everything -- laundry, everything," coach Tom Thibodeau cracked. "You can't play any better than he's playing right now, in every aspect of the game."

Here's a safe guess that Noah didn't venture downtown postgame looking for a laundromat. But the Bulls did clean up some defensive issues, holding the 76ers to 35.1 percent shooting after their previous three opponents had bettered 50 percent.

"It was a good bounce-back for us," Thibodeau said in reference to the last-second loss Friday night in Washington. "This is a very resilient group. They don't quit. They don't go away. They get knocked down and get up and ready for the next one. I like our mindset."

Carlos Boozer also posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds and D.J. Augustin continued his remarkable recovery from NBA obscurity with 19 points, eight assists and three steals off the bench.

Augustin's consistent pushing of the tempo helped the Bulls surpass 20 fast-break points for just the second time this seasonwith 25. The last time they did so also came against the 76ers way back on Nov. 2 in the season's third game.

Noah openly talks about his disdain for the 76ers because fans in Philadelphia cheered his grotesquely sprained ankle during the 2012 playoffs. His three-point play just less than midway through the third quarter carried some extra emphasis, as did a jumper later in the period.

"I haven't felt healthy like this in a long time," Noah said. "My feet don't hurt. My body is feeling good. I'm just trying to take it game by game and enjoying it."

Added Thibodeau: "He's playing as well as any big man in the league."

Reaching double figures for the third time in four games, Tony Snell added 13 points for the Bulls, who led by as many as 36. Of course, the Bulls led by 20 in the last meeting, only to see the 76ers rally behind promising rookie Michael Carter-Williams.

This time, the Bulls kept their foot on the accelerator and Kirk Hinrich helped hound Carter-Williams into a 5-for-22 shooting night.

"Kirk is a fierce competitor," Thibodeau said. "He's going to keep coming the whole game."

The Bulls kept coming, even enjoying some garbage time in which Nazr Mohammed threw down a nasty dunk.

"I give it a solid 4," Noah said, smiling. "But a very solid 4."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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BULLS


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