(SportsNetwork.com) - Joakim Noah is taking his game to a whole new level.
The All-Star center will be put to the test over the next 10 days, as the
Chicago Bulls open a six-game homestand Friday versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
Noah and the Bulls will also host Miami, San Antonio, Houston, Sacramento and
Oklahoma City on the stay from March 7-17.
Chicago has been playing its best basketball since the calendar turned and is
22-9 over that stretch. With wins in 10 of their last 12 games thanks to the
hot play of Noah, the Bulls look to build on Wednesday's 105-94 victory at
Detroit. Noah posted his third triple-double in the past 11 games (22 days)
with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He has two in the last three games
and is averaging 13.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists since Feb. 11.
"We need it. He's a leader," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah. "The
thing about him is he can beat you a lot of different ways."
Noah has six triple-doubles in his career and became the first center in
the NBA to post three triple-doubles in less than a month since David Robinson
registered three from Feb. 2-23, 1990. The last center to have two triple-
doubles in a three-game span was Shawn Bradley back in April of 1996.
Noah is probable for Friday's game with a balky thumb.
Taj Gibson provided 22 points off the bench and Jimmy Butler supplied 18
points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the victory over the
Pistons. Chicago shot 53.8 percent (43-of-80) from the floor and 82.4 percent
(14-of-17) from the foul line.
The Bulls will try to extend their home winning streak to six games and have
an 18-10 record at the United Center. They have won their last five home games
by an average of 19.6 points and are averaging 104.2 ppg in that span.
However, the Bulls are last in scoring this season with 93.3 ppg, but second
in opponents' scoring with 92.3 ppg.
Chicago is also climbing the Eastern Conference ladder and sits percentage
points behind Toronto for the third seed.
Memphis is in the hunt for the playoffs and sits one game behind Dallas for
the final postseason berth in the West.
The Grizzlies had won two straight and three of four games until Wednesday's
103-94 loss at Brooklyn. Marc Gasol was the only starter to score more than 10
points and had 18 to go with seven rebounds. Tayshaun Prince (0), Ed Davis
(0), Courtney Lee (4) and Mike Conley (2) were of no help.
Jon Leuer led the reserves with 19 points, Tony Allen netted 15 and both James
Johnson and Kosta Koufos added 12 points in the loss. Memphis, which trailed
30-19 after the first quarter and was outscored 33-16 in the third, shot 43
percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers for 29 Brooklyn points.
"Give Brooklyn credit, they came out and played with a much more forceful
nature tonight," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
Memphis, which is averaging 102.3 ppg since the All-Star break, is 16-12 away
from FedExForum and will host Charlotte and Portland on the upcoming schedule.
The Grizzlies hope to have Zach Randolph back Friday to battle inside with
Noah, Gibson and Carlos Boozer. Randolph did not play against the Nets because
of flu-like symptoms and is day-to-day. Mike Miller is questionable against
the Bulls with a head issue.
The Bulls defeated Memphis 95-91 back on Dec. 30 on Beale Street, as Butler
and Conley scored 26 points apiece. Chicago ended a three-game slide to the
Grizzlies and is 14-4 all-time at home in this series.
The Sports Network