by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

There’s a saying in sports—and life, really—that you don’t have to get ready if you stay ready. That’s why Taj Gibson always produces.

You wouldn’t be able to tell by their record that the Bulls have played the entire season without ‘10-11 MVP Derrick Rose, and are currently dealing with a rash of injuries to their front line.

With Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer out Friday against the Nets, Gibson played a full 48 minutes in his old neighborhood.

The 6-9 power forward is no stranger to the daily grind. He has been logging hours since he was a teen, working with tools and learning carpentry from his father. Gibson still makes a living using his hands, only now, he’s channeling that same work ethic into his game.

On the second night of the Brooklyn-Atlanta back-to-back, the Bulls were still without their starting frontcourt. Gibson seamlessly slid back into the starting lineup, scoring 19 points on 9-14 shooting to go with a career-high 19 rebounds. The heavily undermanned Bulls looked like they were the team coming off two days rest, notching a 17-point win against the Hawks.

Earlier this season, the Bulls signed Gibson to a four-year contract extension at the deadline. Perhaps what Gibson was building all those years ago was a foundation. Now, the Bulls have added to theirs.