By Nick Shepkowski-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) It was by no means a thing of beauty, but likely nothing about the 2012-13 campaign will be for the Bulls.
A 93-87 win over the Sacramento Kings puts the Bulls in the left-hand column with a season-opening win in what will be a completely different season than what Chicago has grown used to in recent years.
One thing where change was seen Wednesday night was in the offensive game put together but Joakim Noah. Noah led all scorers with 23 points while adding 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks and 3 assists.
“I thought he had a good all-around game and he has played well all preseason” head coach Tom Thibodeau stated after the game. “… Joakim put a lot of work in and he is playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Noah also saw an increase in minutes as he was on the floor for 40:01 Wednesday. Comparatively, despite having games of 40 or more minutes in his career, he’s averaged just 29.2 minutes per contest over the last four years.
With less of a bench this season, especially at the 5-spot, Noah’s shape will undoubtedly be called upon.
“His conditioning is significantly better” Thibodeau said after the game.
Although he had a huge night, Noah was by no means ready to make it sound like this outing would happen on a nightly basis.
“Every game is different” Noah stated. “… I have to stay active and have my teammates find me”.
“It’s Halloween and he had a monster night” Carlos Boozer said of Noah’s outing.
“A lot of blocks, a lot of rebounds, a lot of steals – he was all over the place tonight – he was playing like Joakim Noah” Boozer added.
One night after the entire country was able to watch Dwight Howard go just 3-for-14 from the free throw line in his Lakers debut, Noah was a polar opposite from the stripe, converting 11-of-12 attempts.
A 72.1% foul shooter for his career, Noah credits hard work for his performance Wednesday.
“Just working, a lot of work” is how he explained his strong showing at the line.
While it was an excellent way to start the season, the Bulls are going to need Noah to play as well as he’s ever played because of the lack of depth at the position.
Nazr Mohammed played just 2:44 in his Bulls debut and scored a field goal but remains a defensive liability.
The Bulls return to the floor Friday night as they travel to Cleveland.
Nick Shepkowski is the associate producer for The McNeil and Spiegel Show. For more information, follow him on Twitter @Shep670