Vinny Del Negro had started to sound like the parents of teenagers when discussing Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. He, like a father leaving a parent-teacher conference, was frustrated that Thomas and Noah were not putting in the effort and working up to their potential. They must have gotten the message, as both Thomas and Noah contributed to the Bulls 113-104 win over the Nets.
Just a few days ago, it looked as if Thomas and Noah were hopeless. Last week, Thomas sat out the game due to the coach's decision for the first time this season. This was just after he served a two-game suspension for missing practice. Noah's minutes were dwindling to less than 20 in the previous 10 games. Del Negro aired his frustrations publicly, saying:
Both players provided a spark off the bench. Thomas was efficient, scoring 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in just 23 minutes. Noah was strong in the paint, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. The duo put in most of their time in the fourth quarter when the Bulls went on a 9-0 run to take the lead permanently. Most importantly, they both put in the effort that Del Negro was looking for, calling Thomas and Noah "difference-makers."
The next question to ask is can the Bulls keep this up? The knock on the Bulls this season has been inconsistency, and Noah and Thomas' play in the next few games will show if they can shake that reputation. The Bulls will travel to Charlotte on Tuesday and then will come home to play the Clippers on Wednesday. They will then face a true test when the Celtics come to town on Friday. If Thomas and Noah want to keep contributing to wins, they will need to continue to produce an effort like they did last night.