Skip to content

Joakim Noah’s heart lifts Bulls to ugly win over Nets

Apr 22, 2013, 11:49 PM EST

BKN-BULLS-NETS

Joakim Noah pushed Kris Humphries in the back, positioned himself between Humphries and C.J. Watson for a rebound and lunged out of bounds to save the ball as it took a sharp carom across the baseline. Noah’s heave was headed out of bounds on the sideline, but Kirk Hinrich jumped to save the ball, making a pinpoint pass to Nate Robinson. With 21 seconds on the shot clock, Robinson drilled a long 3-pointer like time was running out and he needed to save a possession.

Thanks to an incredible effort by the plantar-fasciitis-suffer Noah, the Bulls saved their playoff hopes with a 90-82 win over the Nets tonight.

Noah played 25:29 – just enough over his limit of 25 minutes to prove a point – and all 25 minutes and 29 seconds were essential to the Chicago’s win. It wasn’t just that Noah made positive plays, though he certainly did, but his teammates fed off his resolve. The Bulls cheered heartily from the bench and defended physically on the floor, lifting each other as they willed themselves to play just better than Brooklyn.

Then Noah took over.

In the final 7:39, Noah had nine points, six rebounds and a seizure-inducing blocked shot:

Plays like that helped Chicago hold the Nets to 35 percent shooting, and compared to the series’ first game, the big difference came in the paint:

Game 1: 28-of-38 (74 percent)

Game 2: 15-of-36 (42 percent)

The Bulls uglied the game, which worked to their advantage.

Kirk Hinrich orchestrated an offense that scored just 95.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. But he also hounded Deron Williams into 1-of-9 shooting.

Luol Deng forced shot after shot, scoring 15 points on 16 attempts. But highlighting the small forward matchup overwhelmed Gerald Wallace, who scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

Nazr Mohammed… well, there wasn’t much ugly about his game. He played big defense in the interior, and he shot 4-of-5, making two 15-footers and two 16-footers.

In Game 1, the Bulls were –13 in the 12 minutes neither Noah nor Taj Gibson played. Tonight, Chicago was +6 in its 12 minutes with Noah or Gibson – and that’s a credit to Mohammed.

Tom Thibodeau outcoached P.J. Carlesimo tonight – both by making tactical changes from Game 1 and by inspiring his players to give their all – and now it’s the Nets coach’s turn to make adjustments.

Here’s a thought: Don’t start both Wallace and Reggie Evans. They have value for their defense and rebounding, but though those two forwards mostly play with three plus offensive players – Williams, Brook Lopez (21 points) and Joe Johnson (17 points) – the Nets had an offensive rating of 47.6 (!) in the 17 minutes Wallace and Evans shared the court tonight.

In an muddy game, those Brooklyn possessions were perhaps the deepest in the muck, though there were certainly other contenders.

Noah made all three of his fourth-quarter shots, and after each one, he grimaced while laboring up the court. It looked like his legs could crumble beneath him at any moment.

But he kept pressing.

Latest Posts
  1. Kendrick Perkins ready to play enforcer for LeBron James. He’s looking at you, Jonas Valanciunas.

    Mar 6, 2015, 4:50 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptm2n2zjzda4nzewmdi2odvizmm0mdc3nzjkyzfjogi1 AP

    It’s starting to feel like the playoffs are coming, play is getting chippy.

  2. Royce White says he’s not done playing basketball

    Mar 6, 2015, 3:12 PM EST

    Royce White AP

    It would be a long road back for White, but there is a road.

  3. Kyle Lowry returning from injuries after ‘trash’ self-assessment

    Mar 6, 2015, 2:37 PM EST

    The Toronto Raptors took on the Golden State Warriors at the ACC Getty Images

    Raptors need their All-Star point guard to get on track

  4. Wesley Matthews’ injury will test Trail Blazers’ spacing

    Mar 6, 2015, 10:34 AM EST

    Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum AP

    Portland can overcome loss of shooting guard, but it won’t be easy

  5. Larry Bird talks trash about Dominique Wilkins’ statue

    Mar 6, 2015, 9:07 AM EST

    Dominique Wilkins Statue Unveiling Ceremony Getty Images

    Former Celtics star continues what he began Wilkins’ rookie year

  6. Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler on lack of ‘grownups’ on Denver roster: ‘It’s probably true’

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Pacers’ David West made the assertion after Denver fired head coach Brian Shaw.

  7. NBA admits James Harden was fouled in final seconds of Rockets’ loss to Grizzlies

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Houston Rockets vs Washington Wizards Getty Images

    We all saw it at the time, but the league confirmed the missed call the next day.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Westbrook (8758)
  2. K. Durant (7705)
  3. D. Rose (6491)
  4. A. Davis (6481)
  5. K. Lowry (6358)
  1. D. Howard (6356)
  2. P. George (6128)
  3. D. Cousins (6027)
  4. L. James (5614)
  5. J. Butler (5599)