- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DEERFIELD, ILL. (AP) - Sidelined for more than two months by a torn ligament in his right thumb, Joakim Noah will return to the Chicago Bulls‘ lineup when they visit Toronto on Wednesday.

Noah says he’s “just excited to play basketball again.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau says the center’s conditioning will dictate how much he plays the next few games but hopes to have him playing starter’s minutes as soon as possible.

At 38-16, the Bulls are leading the Central division and challenging for the top seed in the Eastern Conference even though injuries have prevented Noah and Carlos Boozer from playing much together. This will be Noah’s first game since a win at Toronto on Dec. 15.

He had surgery shortly afterward, but the Bulls went 22-8 in his absence.