Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau during a press conference at...

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau during a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 17. Credit: Noah K. Murray

NEW ORLEANS — When the Knicks held on to beat the Bulls in Chicago Thursday night they had already planned on remaining in the city overnight. But when they exhaled after the one-point victory the team gathered for dinner together, coaches, staff and players.

On SiriusXm’s NBA Radio, Brian Scalabrine, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota and was on hand for "Joakim Noah Night" talked about how rare it is to see a team dine together with the coach, noting, "In all my years in the NBA I’ve never seen a team out after a win with their coach."

"It’s better when it happens organically," Thibodeau said. "Scripting everything is — you know, but it was an opportunity to do it. So, we went out to some great restaurant, Tao, and it was an enjoyable evening and we came in the next day ready to go."

Thibodeau smiled as he repeated how good it was at Tao, which is majority owned by the Madison Square Garden Company.

"You spend so much time with each other. And I thought that was, to be honest with you, one of the great benefits for us last year, where basically we couldn’t go out and so we were around each other. We had meals together after every game — every night that we were on the road for that matter. And so, you develop relationships. You really get to know each other. I think that was a big plus for us. So we wanted to continue on with it this year."

Noel still sidelined

You may have heard this before, like before every preseason and regular season game this season, but Nerlens Noel sat out the game last night and is believed to be close to returning.

Noel has yet to play this season as he rehabilitates his way back from what the team has called a sore left knee and he has explained was a hamstring issue. He has worked out with the team but remains sidelined and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said that it comes down to trusting the player to know his body.

Asked if Noel had suffered a setback, Thibodeau said, "Nah, and that’s where you have to trust the player. You don’t want to put a player out there until he’s comfortable. And so he’s doing more and more each day. He’ll know when. I trust him."