CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah is the Chicago Bulls' energy guy, and if this is the kind of boost he's going to provide, they'll certainly take it.
Noah had 20 points and 16 rebounds to lead the short-handed Bulls to an 87-86 preseason victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
"I'm trying to be more aggressive, but at the same time, not do too much," said Noah, who finished strong last season. "I understand my role is always going to be the energy guy, try to get offensive rebounds, try to get extra possessions for my team. If I can add like a hook shot or something, especially at end-of-the-clock situations, I think that can help the team."
Noah certainly helped the Bulls on Tuesday.
His performance was enough to offset Hakim Warrick's 25 points for the Bucks and help Chicago prevail on a night when it blew an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee tied the game at 86 with 29 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Jodie Meeks, but Jannero Pargo's free throw five seconds later gave the Bulls a one-point lead. Chicago's James Johnson missed two foul shots with 14.1 seconds left, but the Bucks couldn't capitalize.
After a 20-second timeout, Brandon Jennings dribbled upcourt and Luc Mbah a Moute missed a 22-foot jumper. Dan Gadzuric missed a tip-in, and after the ball went out of bounds off a Chicago player with 2.7 seconds left, he couldn't convert a 17-footer from the right side.
"The last shot was not the shot that we would want to take, but I'm not going to come down on a 20-year-old rookie for that," coach Scott Skiles said referring to Jennings. "Brandon will learn that we have time to bring it back out for a look. Gadzuric took the shot toward the end of the game and it just didn't go in. Those are the kinds of things that we work on in practice, on taking shots at the end of the game. Even if it didn't go in, they executed it and our timing was good."
The Bulls played without Derrick Rose (ankle), Tyrus Thomas (hip) and Brad Miller (flu).
Taj Gibson had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, while Johnson, another rookie, scored all but one of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
"My heart was beating 100 miles a minute," Gibson said after his first appearance at the United Center. "When you look up and see those banners and think about Scottie Pippen and some of the other guys who played here, you're bound to get a little nervous. I'm a city kid from New York who really loves basketball and follows basketball so it was definitely special to play here tonight."
Ersan Ilyasova scored 14 points for the Bucks, while Michael Redd had 11 in 14 minutes after scoring 18 on Monday in a 96-92 win at Houston. He underwent knee surgery in March and is still recuperating.
"I still feel pain, which is scar tissue breaking up. Which is natural, the doctor told me," Redd said. "We just try to monitor it, go as hard as I can while I'm in there playing and at the same time still be wise."
Jennings had another rough game shooting, going 2 for 13 from the field for 10 points. That came on the heels of a 1-for-8 showing against the Rockets that convinced Skiles to keep starting Luke Ridnour at point guard, although he didn't mind what he saw this time.
"He played a good floor game for us as well," Skiles said. "His shot wasn't going down, but he stayed strong throughout."
Coach Vinny Del Negro said Rose and Thomas are getting better and hopes they can practice Thursday. He did not rule out Thomas playing Wednesday at Minnesota. ... John Salmons, whose wife is close to giving birth to their second child, was planning to make the trip to Minnesota. "Whatever's best for that situation we'll make sure we do the right thing and that he's comfortable with his wife," Del Negro said. "That's just another thing we're monitoring. That could happen anytime." ... The Bucks rested C Andrew Bogut after he played 18 minutes on Monday. He missed the final 31 games last season with an injured lower back.