• You wonder what Bulls fans will feel about this – the Spurs will play Monday without their three best players. Tim Duncan is out for the ninth time in the last 11 games because of a sore left knee, Manu Ginobili won’t play for the fifth straight game due to a tight hamstring. Then the Spurs put out word late that Tony Parker, the star of the team in the absence of the other starters, would not play because of swelling in his knee. That means the Spurs’ starting lineup will be Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw.
  • The Bulls said center Joakim Noah would be a game-time decision based on how his foot felt after warmups. Noah has been dealing with plantar fascia pain in his right foot and has missed three games in February because of the injury. “He’s feeling better, but we are going to monitor it,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s doing OK.”
  • Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was with the San Antonio Spurs from 1992 to 1994, said Monday the San Antonio Spurs are “the gold standard’’ of NBA teams, thanks to the management of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “When ‘Pop’ got there, he had an idea how he wanted to run that organization,’’ Thibodeau said. “I was there for about three weeks with him and he already had a clear vision of how he wanted to run the organization. It’s amazing because everything he talked about he has done. They have great leadership, they have a system and they are so consistent. What they do at home, what they do on the road, what they do with guys out, it’s just a machine.” Thibodeau, in his third year with the Bulls, said he hoped his club would resemble the Spurs over time. “Hopefully, we are on the track, but you have to be able to do it year after year.”
  • The Bulls play their first home game since Jan. 28 Monday against the Spurs, but after going 3-3 on the recent six-game road swing, they aren’t out of the woods in terms of travel. They play four of their next six games on the road, with stops in Boston and Oklahoma City, while they host the best team in the Western Conference (the Spurs) and the best team in the Eastern Conference (the Miami Heat, Feb. 21).

Kent McDill

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