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Joakim Noah says Bulls coach Thibodeau ‘doesn’t understand the whole rest thing’

Mar 3, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Tom Thibodeau

The questions about how hard Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau rides his starters have been asked countless times, and the answers are always the same: That’s how he chooses to do it, the players can handle it, and the results have been mostly successful.

That doesn’t mean that they’re going to stop, especially when the guys normally logging the heaviest of minutes end up doing so even when the game has seemingly already been decided, as was the case in an easy 96-85 win over the Nets on Saturday.

Chicago led by 18 points after three, yet Luol Deng played the entire fourth quarter giving him 44 minutes on the night, and Joakim Noah was subbed back in with just over six and a half minutes to play and the Bulls leading by 20.

It seemed excessive, more so than usual. And Noah had an opinion about it afterward.

From Sam Smith of

“I saw the way the game was going,” said Thibodeau. “You’re jogging back. They’ve got a lot of three point shooting on the floor. A 10-point lead can dissipate in a minute. You knock down three threes, you get a foul, boom. And then we were in the penalty; we’re recklessly fouling. We’ve got to do better.”

“What do you want me to say? Yeah, I’m tired, pretty tired,” Noah offered with a shrug. “Working on (his plantar fasciitis) every day, massages, lots of treatments, doing everything possible to keep it under control. It’s not really right after the game (you feel tired). It’s the next morning that’s the roughest.

“We’ve got a great coach,” Noah said as he began to smile and let out a laugh and you know one of those subtle, understated zingers was coming. “But he doesn’t understand the whole rest thing yet I don’t think. But it’s all good. We all want to win. It’s good.”

The thing about the Bulls is that while most teams are able to turn it up a notch once the postseason begins, Chicago is already playing at maximum effort, and playing its players maximum minutes — even in a situation like this where it would seem to be a good time for Thibodeau to get his guys some rest.

Thibodeau isn’t going to change his style, though, and the way he obsesses about the little things, even when up 20 with only six minutes remaining, is what has made him a successful head coach.

Having his two All-Stars log 40-plus minutes in a game that has already been decided, however, is eventually going to take its toll — perhaps as soon as Sunday night, when the Bulls head to Indiana to take on the Pacers.

  1. raidmagic - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    This is why Rose is on the sidelines and not on the floor. He never should have been in the game when he got hurt. You’d think he (TT) would have learned from that experience

    • nanrad - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Rose’s ACL tear was a FREAK accident. It was unfortunate, yes, but Thibs was not at fault for that. If that was the case, blame every coach whose players have had an ACL tear–Rondo played on his partial tear. He was not tired or over exerted.

    • thedaimajin - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:06 PM

      how could anyone disagree with this? EVERYONE knew rose shouldn’t have been in the game at that point. if he’s not in the game, he doesn’t go for that drive and doesn’t get hurt. plain and simple.

  2. rajbais - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I agree. You wanna win championships?

    No over exertion!!!

    • eventhorizon04 - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      The Spurs have won multiple championships, and their long-time coach (Gregg Popovich) is well known for resting players.

      A 37-year old Tim Duncan is having one of his best seasons in years for a reason…

  3. samonelastains - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Both Thibs and Noah are both right. Will the bulls starters definitely need more rest at the end of these games but everyone who is 25 or older can remember when McGrady scored 13 points in 33 seconds. While no Nets player is close to having the scoring tenacity of McGrady, coming back from that deficit is not impossible

  4. iowahbr - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    The Bulls are playing at 105% of potential without Rose right now and their coach is both great and goofy at the same time. He is getting the most out of his players and then some but will not understand that they will need the extra reserve that will get them over the humps during the play-offs, especially after the 1st round.. The NBA play-offs go at a different pace and meaningless wins right now won’t show at play-off time. The Vince Lombardi appraoch is now for trophies, not for coaching styles.

  5. thestudiokida - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    It’s a well accepted fact that exhaustion leads to injury in sports. Don’t know if that’s why Rose got hurt but it couldn’t have helped. Thibs had a great bench last year, there’s no reason to have Rose playing in the final minute of a 10-point game or to play Deng 39 minutes a game.

  6. sportsnut101 - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    U should be in shape That’s why u get paid millions.

    Do the stars need to be in the game at the end if u up 15 Well depends on how much time is left. U guys remember Dallas beat Miami who was up 15 with less then 5 min

    Bulls don’t have enough scoring to take stars out even up 15 their not deep Do players get tired yes. The reson deng plays a lot of min is their is no1 else who can guard n score on the team like him. If ur center is having foot injury u might not wanna play him so long. But noah took yr n half off playing like crap anyway so he should be rested.
    Deng did miss a whole yr due to injury with foot. So he’s well rested as well

  7. bk9876 - Mar 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Wow 12ppg on average and he is tired? This guy has been in the nba 6 years and wants to be treated like Robert Parrish from the celtics during his later years. 39 mpg is not too many for a young man.

    You have to earn it. I don’t ever see the Bulls winning with a guy like this as these types of comments show a lack of heart and desire. MJ had to be pulled off the court most times and had the heart of a lion.

    Time to man up. Be like Mike.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 5, 2013 at 3:13 AM

      You’re questioning how hard Noah plays night in and night out? Really?

  8. antmings - Mar 3, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    It’s already been said and proven that DRose injury had nothing to do with how many mins he played per ur research

  9. profootballwalk - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Guys are begging to not play? Pathetic. Wilt averaged over 48 minutes in a season – start to finish every night, plus overtime. And then he went to the hotel and took care of five women ever night. These guys are a disgrace.

    • dko83 - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:58 AM

      This is so great. I lol’d pretty hard and made me rethink the entire situation. They probably didn’t have the same rigorous schedule back then but I STILL agree.

    • philtration - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      Where does it say that “Guys are begging to not play” in this story?

  10. 11thstreetmafia - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    I don’t care. This team used to be horrible and has made gigantic leaps with this guy at the helm. If this is hat it takes, so be it. I’d rather not be a lottery team.

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