Central Notes: Bulls, Noah, West, James

The Bulls believe in their starting five, writes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com, but they’re hoping to see it together more often. Injuries have limited Chicago’s starting unit of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy and Pau Gasol to four games together this season. “It’s kind of frustrating a little bit because we know how good we can be,” Rose said. “And we know that it’s a long season. And we’re just trying to stay consistent with everything that we’re doing knowing that we have a pretty, pretty good team. Right now defensively, we’re not where we want to be.”

There’s other news from the Central Division:

  • A key component of that starting unit may be Joakim Noah putting injury woes behind him, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. A surgically repaired left knee forced him to miss Tuesday’s game in Denver, but he bounced back with 15 points and 14 rebounds Friday in Boston. “There’s no question in my mind — 100% — that I can get to where I want to be physically this season,” Noah said. “I have to be positive. I know how far I’ve come in just the last month.”
  • David West has changed his attitude about the new-look Pacers, writes Mike Montieth of Pacers,com. With Paul George missing the season with a broken leg and Lance Stephenson gone through free agency, West seemed down on Indiana’s situation during media day. But the 34-year-old forward, who missed the season’s first 15 games while rehabbing a sprained ankle, had a different outlook on his teammates after returning to the court Friday. “These guys compete and play hard, and they do that at a very high level,” he said. “They’ve won some tough road games by being competitive and engaged and having a fight about them, which is one of the reasons I was anxious to get back out there.” West has a player option next season worth $12.6MM.
  • His teammates aren’t the only ones missing Paul George, writes Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The CavaliersLeBron James regrets that he won’t have any epic matchups with George this year. “Us competing against each other the last few years throughout the second round and Eastern Conference Finals and things of that nature definitely has helped it,” James said of the rivalry. “So it’s mutual respect, but I’ve always respected him, just him as a person.”

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