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Bulls starting five getting healthy and coming together

NEW YORK – There is seemingly very little Pau Gasol isn’t good at.

He’s actually a renaissance man of sorts.

Go ahead and throw ping pong into that hat.

He made that obvious to all his new Bulls teammates, winning the team’s Thanksgiving Ping Pong Tournament on Thursday, beating rookie Nikola Mirotic in the finals.

Thanks to Nazr Mohammed, the social media world had a chance to get an inside look at Gasol’s skills, with Mohammed posting a video of Gasol’s win over Joakim Noah.

“That was a good match,’’ Gasol said on Saturday. “It’s always fun playing Jo. He’s very intense. So I enjoy beating him … a lot.’’

All coach Tom Thibodeau is interested in is Gasol’s joy in beating opponents on the basketball court … a lot.

Going into Sunday’s game in Brooklyn against the Nets, the Bulls are 10-6, with two of those losses coming when Gasol was sidelined with a calf injury.

The 7-foot, 34-year-old was second to only Jimmy Butler in scoring (18.9 points per game), while leading the Bulls in rebounding (10.8 per game) and blocked shots (2.08 per game).

Good numbers for the free-agent acquisition, but more of a testament of how quickly Gasol has come in and acclimated himself to this new system.

Now, the scary part: the surface is just being scratched.

The win in Boston was just the fourth time the starting unit of Gasol, Derrick Rose, Noah, Butler and Mike Dunleavy have played together in the regular season, with their record being 4-0 in those games. One of those wins came in Toronto, against the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors.

That’s why there’s some real excitement of the potential this group has moving forward.

“We have a lot,’’ Gasol said. “Hopefully, we can have some continuity and continue to build on what we’re doing on the floor and learn how to be effective and grow as a group. It’s always nice to have everybody back. Hopefully, Taj [Gibson and his injured left ankle] will be back soon as well. When we are all together and healthy, I think our potential is really big.

“We just have to build on it and do positive things and win games, which I think we can do on a consistent basis.’’

The record indicates they can.

Thibodeau, however, knows there’s more of the unit to give. Then again, Thibodeau always believes there’s more to give.

“I think they have to play together,’’ Thibodeau said of the often-injured group. “And they have to practice together. That’s the only way you can build chemistry. You have to work together and build the right habits. You can’t skip that. So it’s a move in the right direction for us.’’

Especially on the offensive end.

Defensively? Not a typical Thibodeau-coached team, allowing 99.2 points per game, which was 13th in the NBA. In the previous four season under Thibodeau, the Bulls have never been out of the top four, with the worst season coming in the 2012-13 season, when they allowed 92.9 points per game.

“We got a lot of work to do,’’ Thibodeau said of the defense. “We’ve got to build some continuity. We’ve got to have everyone understanding what they need to do, and you have to be consistent with it. But you’ve got to work at it every day.’’

That continuity with the starters should get another chance to grow Sunday, with all five practicing and healthy Saturday.

“If anything, our defense always has to be there,’’ Rose said. “That’s something we have to learn, too.’’

Good thing Gasol is proving to be a quick learner.