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But with three straight strong defensive efforts, the focus is back at that end. Even in defeat, the Bulls limited the Cavaliers to 41.3 percent shooting and 92 points. In back-to-back victories, the Bulls held the 76ers to 40.2 percent and 84 points and the Rockets to an opponent-season-low 33.7 percent and 88 points.

"That's how we're going to win games," guard Kirk Hinrich said simply.

The improvement can be credited to more than Joakim Noah's return given the third-year big man has played just 21 minutes in the last two games.

"Maybe the new guys are getting more accustomed to what we're doing," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick. "Jo being out there gives us more length and energy and gives Brad (Miller) a few less minutes so he can be more productive. Derrick (Rose) and Kirk did a fantastic job controlling (Houston's) penetration."

Indeed, both Noah and Del Negro praised Rose's defensive job on Aaron Brooks, who shot 3 for 17. Rose's defense is rarely lauded.,0,7082246.story
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