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Noah does it all in Bulls' win over Sacramento

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The last time the Sacramento Kings and Bulls faced off, Joakim Noah was ejected and his "thank you's" to each official drew a $15,000 the day after the blowout loss.

Not to say that he was anymore charged than he normally is, during the Bulls 94-87 victory over Sacramento on Saturday, but the stat sheet that he's been filling all season long were extra packed in this one.

Noah finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, five blocked shots and several of MVP chants.

"His rebounding, his desire, his playmaking -- you can see with the scoring component he's gotten better and better," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He is a lot more confident. He is finishing better. All of that is critical for us."

The Bulls (37-29) were outrebounded 55-40 and Sacramento went to the free throw line 37 times (converting 23), but they were able to hold the Kings to 36.5 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers that they turned into 13 points.

Just a few night after limiting Dwight Howard to just 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, Noah had his hands full with Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

"There's definitely easier things in life," Noah said of the challenge of two of the game's best big men right after one another. "I'm just happy that we came out with two big wins for us. Sacramento is a team that gives us fits, but we found a way and that's big."

After a dominant offensive first half by Noah, in which he scored 17 (scored the team's first eight points of the game), he saved his best for the fourth quarter.

He stripped Isaiah Thomas and took it coast-to-coast and finished with a lefty scoop as Cousins slid under him to try and draw a charge to put the Bulls up five. He found Jimmy Butler cutting to the hoop for a layup that put them up seven. His length-of-the-floor assist to Taj Gibson was his best dime of the game as Gibson converted the layup, plus the foul to give the Bulls 86-78 advantage with 2 minutes remaining.

“Noah’s an incredible player," Cousins said afterwards. "I say he’s the heart and soul of that Bulls team. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. He’s the horse of that team, he’s leading that team. I have nothing but respect for him. He knows that and I feel he has the same type of respect for me. everything he’s receiving, he deserves.”

In all, Noah finished the fourth with four rebounds, four assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block. Not to be outdone, Gibson scored seven in the period and pulled down three of his five offensive rebounds of the night. He finished the game with 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

"After getting into foul trouble last game, I thought he got right back on track," Thibodeau said of Gibson. "That was big for us."

Mike Dunleavy added 16 and six rebounds. He said his neck feels fine after taking an elbow to the right side of eye in the win over Houston and there's still some swelling left along the eye, which sports 10 stitches. D.J. Augustin added 12 off the bench.

Even with it being the second straight game they were beat on the boards, they were able to find a way to win. Stop me, if you've heard that one before.

"A lot of things didn't go our way tonight," Noah said. "But we found a way. I just like our demeanor out there, especially at the end of the game. Every time you step onto the court, you learn something about the team and I think the best part about it was our composure down the stretch. We didn't let anything get to us. We just stayed focus on what was important."

While Noah is one to quickly deflect the MVP chants that have become consistent at the United Center, his play continues to remain in focus as he's continues to have a season for the ages.

"His game is through the roof right now," Gibson said. "His confidence is through the roof. The one thing about the NBA is it's all about confidence. When you work on your game and you get that confidence going, you're unstoppable. I feel like he's taking it to the next level.

"All the ups and downs that he's gone through in his career and now he's on this stage, hearing MVP chants; it's great because that shows the amount of work that he's put in, the amount of hear he has and it's great for him."

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