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Thibodeau defensive about major minutes for Noah, Deng

Dec 15, 2012, 2:31 PM EST

Tom Thibodeau AP

Joakim Noah is playing 40.1 minutes a game, a healthy jump from the 30.4 points per game we saw last season.

Luol Deng is playing 41 minutes a game (but he did play more than 39 a game the two previous seasons.

With Derrick Rose out, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is leaning heavily on his stars — Deng and Noah are playing more minutes per game than any players in the NBA. It’s working, Bulls are 12-9 and tied for the lead in the Central Division.

But is it too much?

Tom Thibodeau doesn’t thinks so and got defensive when asked about Noah. Via ESPN Chicago:

“Look, here’s the thing, OK?” he said. “I sat on the opposing bench when Phil [Jackson] was coaching the Bulls. I used to sit there and say, ‘When’s he going to take those guys out, because I don’t want to see them on the floor.’ He never did.”

About the jump of Noah’s minutes in particular Thibs was unconcerned.

“No,” Thibodeau said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s in his 20s.”

I get why Thibodeau is doing this — he wants to win and he doesn’t have a lot of options and players to lean on. And he’s right, this is a young team, but you can wear them down. There’s a reason coaches like Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers rest players late in the season. Thibodeau doesn’t have to worry about the minutes in December, but he might want to think about his rotations after the All Star Break.

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