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Joakim Noah says he expects return after All-Star break

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Joakim Noah said Wednesday night his hand is “coming along” and when asked for a timeline said he plans to return right after the All-Star break.

Noah is traveling with the Bulls on the annual “ice show trip” — and if you saw the weather in Chicago you have at least one idea why he wanted to go (it was 64 in Los Angeles Wednesday). But also he is working with the team hoping to get in shape and return from the thumb surgery that has had him out since mid-December. The Bulls have gone 18-6 in his absence, in large part due to the play of Derrick Rose.

Before the Bulls took on the Clippers without him to start the trip, Noah got in some cardio work with a soft cast still protecting his hand. Afterward in the locker room he said he was feeling good and optimistic about the return in a couple of weeks.

That post All-Star weekend timeline is what coach Tom Thibodeau has said he hoped to see previously.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.