MINNEAPOLIS — Rick Adelman has coached Vlade Divac, Chris Webber and Brad Miller. So the Timberwolves coach, one of eight in NBA history in the 1,000-victory club, knows a little something about passing big men.
And he didn’t need to see Joakim Noah’s seventh career triple-double and fourth this season, which fueled the Bulls’ 102-87 victory Wednesday night at Target Center, to say the following.
Unique is a good word for Noah, who broke Tom Boerwinkle’s 43-year franchise record for most assists in a season by a center. Noah finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Bulls won for a season-high sixth straight time. He now has 398 assists this season, one more than Boerwinkle had in 1970-71.
“He doesn’t care about his own statistics,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He just cares about winning. To me, that’s what separates him from most.”
The Bulls, who placed six in double figures, remained tied with the Raptors for the Eastern Conference’s third seed with four games remaining. D.J. Augustin scored 21 points and Kirk Hinrich added 16.
But the story of the game, as it has been so often this season, remained Noah. He now is tied with Pacers guard Lance Stephenson with the league lead for triple doubles.
“Noah has really stepped up,” Adelman said. “He has become a great player this year. He has just gotten better in every area since he came into the league.”
For good measure, Noah dropped in a 20-foot jumper with 4.5 seconds left. Nevertheless, he continued to try to deflect individual attention and steer it back toward the team.
“The important thing is winning,” Noah said. “We’re trying to stay focused on progress. Everything else that comes with it is just bonus.
“I feel real comfortable, making plays for my teammates, being aggressive when I have to. All this stuff is giving me more confidence. And I want more.”
New signee Ronnie Brewer didn’t play, and Thibodeau intimated the veteran wouldn’t even take rookie Tony Snell’s spot minutes moving forward.
“The rotation is pretty much set right now,” Thibodeau said. “I like the way the guys have played. Things can change, whether it’s through an injury or foul trouble. Everyone needs to be ready.”
The Bulls’ roster is set to grow to 15 players with the imminent signings of Mike James and a big man, possibly Lou Amundson, sources said.