Even Waldo Wonders, Where’s Joakim?


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CHICAGO – As the Bulls clawed their way back into their home game against Memphis Saturday night, outscoring the Grizzlies 29-16 in the fourth quarter to force overtime, Joakim Noah sat. Well, sure, coach Tom Thibodeau was sticking with the five guys who brought Chicago back. That had to be it.

When the Bulls slipped behind 83-80 in the final minute of an OT session and were searching again for offense at the bitter end, Noah sat. Why of course, Thibodeau needed shooters on the floor. That had to be it.

But when Taj Gibson picked up his sixth foul with 39.1 seconds left and Noah still was sitting, attempts to guess at Thibodeau’s reasoning hit a wall. Nazr Mohammed was sent into the game for the Bulls for size, Memphis’ Zach Randolph on the line. Z-Bo missed two, Carlos Boozer grabbed the second and, with 37.9 seconds to go, Mohammed checked out.

That li’l window of 2.3 seconds made it obvious that something else was afoot.

“That’s just a coaching decision,” Thibodeau said.

Noah didn’t say anything, at least not to reporters. Rare for him, he exited the locker room before the media arrived.

Noah wound up playing 26:40, with 10 points and five rebounds, never returning after subbing out at 5:53 of the third.

Yes, it was Chicago’s third consecutive overtime game and yes, Noah had logged 47:40 at Toronto Wednesday and 45:29 at Boston Friday. But the Bulls already were without forward Luol Deng, out with a strained right hamstring, and of course haven’t had guard Derrick Rose at all. Now they were trying to push through Memphis, by choice, without a guy who might wind up on the East All-Star squad next month.

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins credited his side’s offensive rebounding – they had seven in the fourth quarter and overtime – with salvaging possessions and ultimately the game. Noah had started strong enough – 10 points, three assists and two boards in a feisty first quarter – but went scoreless, shooting 0-of-3 with three rebounds over his next 14-plus minutes.

He had struggled in previous games against the Grizzlies (4.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg in his career) and Noah’s man, Randolph, finished with 13 points and 19 boards. Still, the Bulls center had posted double-doubles in three of his last four games. Memphis surely expected to see him return.

“Yeah,” Grizz center Marc Gasol said. “Well … yeah.”

Did Thibodeau see something on the United Center floor Saturday that he didn’t like? Had Noah been listening to too much All-Star jazz? Did he just need a blow after those long minutes against the Raptors and the Celtics? Boozer said he spoke to Noah briefly after the game, revealed nothing of what they said, but added: “He’ll be fine.”

He was conspicuous by his absence for 2.3 seconds, at least.

47 Comments

  1. Anna says:

    Sorry guys Jo signed a 5 year deal last year. Plus they wont trade any key guys like Luol, Joakim, or Carlos because they still dont have Rose. All players will player better with Derrick

  2. kevin nicholls INDIANAPOLIS says:

    Hes the heart and sole of the team his energy and rebounds and hustle makes the bulls who they are

  3. Chester says:

    good to see tibs giving him a rest, deng and noah are being ridden into the ground and will have nothing left come playoff time

  4. Steve S says:

    It’s obvious that what the Bulls lack is a fourth quarter closer. With all these OT games and the big fourth quarter leads they have blown, D Rose is sorely missed.

  5. Too much hair! says:

    I think Noah should cut his hair! Seriously!

  6. C'mon, Man... says:

    While one has every right to criticize Thibodeau, have some decency, Steve! Clearly, I think it came down to two things:
    1. Trying not to overexhaust Noah (see: what happened to Deng from too many minutes)
    2. Calculating the opportunity cost of putting him in (specifically, OT)
    I think the first point alone should suffice as an explanation for Thib’s line of thinking. If you add on the fact that Noah was having a rough offensive night, partially because of fatigue, then it’s clear that keeping him on the bench was the correct, difficult decision to make.
    It may frustrate Noah, make Thibs look bad, but I feel it was the right move.

    • TANK878 says:

      Naw that was not the right move,Iike I told omyblaze57 if thibs was feeling like that why keep his starters in the game when they up 30 in the fourth quarters,Thats when he should take them out for some extra rest not in a close game that you trying come out with a win with.

  7. lyknoother33 says:

    Thibs reminds me of the Momma Bear and Papa Bear, both rolled up in one when it comes to his rotations. Always too hot or too cold and just when you think he’s got it right, he makes another change.

    He runs Deng and Noah into the ground, yet keeps Rip in Witness Protection. If you look at their history of injuries, I believe both Deng and Noah have missed more games than Rip, who has been in the league much longer, in their respective careers. Thibs need to stop subbing by committee and find plug and pull during key moments.

  8. Pride says:

    Oh the Bulls are the only team with no problems. That is what Bulls fans think. Noah needs to stop talking all that trash he got ate up in the playoffs last year and now is benched by his own coach. Play ball and go grab your rebounds.

    • Edub says:

      Every team has it’s problems. And trash talk is part of the NBA and he was only benched for one game. It’s not like it’s been more than one game.

  9. LBJ6 says:

    That woils be 1.2 seconds, not 2.3. Genius.

  10. Tyler says:

    I was wondering more why Nate Robinson didn’t get subbed out after like 5 mistakes in a row? It was getting painful watching him make so many bad decisions.

  11. Carl says:

    Noah was in the ark :)

  12. just thinking says:

    Trade Bosh + 1 to Noah…(“,)

  13. Hong Kong says:

    Bulls don’t use the ball well at clutch times this whole season.

  14. Chuck Norris Cole says:

    Joakim Noah will be traded for Pau Gasol

  15. thesniper321 says:

    Will david Stern fine the bulls for this move??

  16. Marcus says:

    I don’t see why people are making a deal out of this, Thibs did this sort of thing the past two seasons when the starters weren’t performing. The only difference here is Carlos was doing enough to score and there’s no Omer to replace Noah so Taj could relieve Carlos. Then there’s the backcourt where we’re used to seeing Rip out of the fourth quarter and Kirk was pretty much out at the end there until the end of OT. If Thibs could count on Marquis, Nate would’ve been out sooner too.

  17. DaBulls933 says:

    I am thinking that Thibs sat Noah out because he feared about losing another of his all star players to an injury. Memphis can get really physical sometimes.

  18. Luke says:

    Noah wouldn’t leave Chicago even if they wanted to trade him. He loves playing for the bulls, don’t even know why you would say that.

  19. omyblaze57 says:

    I think he benched Noah just to let him take a breather. Too many minutes in his body on the previous two games, and Thibs was just making a coaching decision thinking about later in the season, with his 2 best players already lost to injury (Rose/Deng). I know he learned a lot with Doc Rivers at Boston. Fatigue brings injuries, and I know Thibs will rather lose a game, than lose another key player for a large amount of time. That’s my opinion.

    • TANK878 says:

      I Don’t agree with that,If thibs learn from doc that fatigue bring injury why do he leave his starters in when they up 30 in fourth quarters that’s when he should take them out not in a close game and you tryin to pull out a win,I Think it was a dumb move to keep noah sittin on the bench like that and kirk as well cuz nate was steady messing up.

  20. PdaDunker says:

    Stuff happens…not allways for a good reason, in hindsight. I love Thibs’ D and de Bulls for pplaying great D

  21. Marco says:

    he is a big part of the team. he needed a rest and needed to avoid an injury, with Rose out and Deng, we wouldn’t want another star injured. Coach Thibodeau is looking to finally have a full roster with Derricks return.

  22. don says:

    I wish coach Thibs had consulted with me and asked if I were trailing in Fantasy League rebounds before the strange decision to sit Noah for the remainder of game.

  23. I’d love to see a trade between Chris Bosh and Noah. Noah to Miami…Make it Happen!!!

  24. caloyski says:

    Probably something is wrong with Noah –physically or probably psychologically for the game

  25. bj says:

    a bad call to me it seems, Noah could have opened the floor for the shooters. the team seemed out of balance and stressed in the end game. if Bulls are such a good half court team- this one shoulda been a walk in the park ??

    overall not a very bad loss, the other night a wild toss by Bellinelli went in to win the game.

  26. bigD says:

    Maybe tibs was trying to be like miami when wade n bosh sat out the 4th vs jazz… ummm, copy cat

  27. Ameer says:

    Im sure there was a reason for the benching. Although it was weird, you’ve got to love Thibs discipline. Noah mustve done something to deserve it, obviously.

  28. Daniel says:

    Gonna be a non-issue. Noah is as loyal as they come to his teammates and will show up everyday. Great player, great coach, weird decision.

  29. Anne says:

    Good game.

  30. big cat says:

    there sitting him out because he’s getting moved to Toronto for andrea bargnani