The Chicago Bulls gutted out a win against a much fresher Philadelphia 76ers team, and Joakim Noah was right in the middle of all of it.
Noah led the Bulls, who got into Philadelphia at 4:30 a.m. after losing a tough game against the L.A. Clippers the night before, with 21 points, five assists and seven rebounds. He even hit all seven of his foul shots, including a handful to ice the game down the stretch.
Luol Deng, the NBA's leader in minutes per game, played a modest 37 tonight in a solid comeback performance after a rough game against the Clippers. He tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The Sixers looke like the more energetic team early, as they consistently beat the Bulls down the floor in the first half. Overall, they definitely won some battles in the hustle war, notably pulling down 14 offensive boards in the game.
But, Chicago did what it does best on the defensive end in the second half, limiting the Sixers' transition opportunities and forcing them to settle for contested long twos.
Jrue Holiday topped the Sixers with 26 points in a losing effort.
It wasn't pretty, but the Bulls notched a truly impressive victory on a night when nobody would have faulted them for succumbing to a rough schedule and a short bench. The Sixers have to be a little disappointed, but Chicago simply wanted this one more.
Final Score: Bulls 96, Sixers 89