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Chicago Bulls Vs. New Jersey Nets: The Bulls Miss Joakim Noah

The headline to this post would seem pretty obvious; Joakim Noah was headed toward a possible All-Star season before his hand surgery. This Tribune article tells the story -- the Bulls have not done as well with fast-break points since Noah has been out. Coach Tom Thibodeau has the solution:

"The big thing is defense and rebounding," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "If we're playing with high energy, we have to get the ball out quickly and look to attack. We have to be careful we don't become conservative late.

"We want to get our turnovers down. When you're careless with the ball, it makes you slower. I want us to attack. It plays to Derrick's strengths."

The article goes on to say that the coach has asked Derrick Rose to join "the rebounding party"; the "high energy" he's referring to is clearly the way Noah plays every play. Not to say that the rest of the Bulls don't bring energy to the game, but Noah takes it to a different level. Rose did have a big rebounding game against the Pistons last Sunday, when he had a season-high 12 boards.

The Nets should be ripe for picking, especially in Chicago; they have the fourth-worst road record in the NBA at 3-14. The Bulls' win against Milwaukee gave them the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference as of today (12-3). The Bulls are playing their third game in a ten-game stretch where nine of the opponents have losing records; they're 2-0 so far, and need to keep that up.

The rare weekday afternoon game begins at 2 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN, both locally and nationally.