MINNEAPOLIS – D.J. Augustin's career was swirling down the drain when the Toronto Raptors waived him in December, and the former No. 9 overall pick seemed destined to join the long list of promising prospects that just never made it in the NBA.
Four days later, the Chicago Bulls signed him in an attempt to add some scoring punch to a defense-first team. Augustin has flourished in Chicago, one of the big reasons the surprising Bulls have been able to weather Derrick Rose's injury and the trade of Luol Deng to stay in the hunt in the Eastern Conference.
"We needed him," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said, "and he needed us."
Augustin had another big game Wednesday night, scoring 21 points to lead Chicago to a 102-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Joakim Noah added 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double, moving into a tie with Indiana's Lance Stephenson for the most in the NBA this season. Kirk Hinrich scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and the Bulls hit 11 of 21 3-pointers to stay right on Toronto's heels for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We wouldn't be in this position without D.J.," Noah said. "His passing ability, his scoring ability, just the way he plays the game. ... I feel like I have really good chemistry with him and I think the rest of this team feels that way, too. We're going to need him down the stretch."
Kevin Love had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves. But he hyperextended his right elbow in the first half and only made 7 of 20 shots, including 2 of 8 3-pointers. Ricky Rubio added 15 points and six assists, but the Wolves were just 4 for 17 from long distance.