Noah Fulfills Promise With Huge Game 7

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NEW YORK – There’s no way to avoid it. This was about toughness and defense.

Actually, it was about Joakim Noah, who, in turn, is about toughness and defense.

It was Noah who promised that his team would win Game 7 in Brooklyn on Saturday. And it was Noah who was most responsible for that promise being fulfilled, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 99-93, series-ending victory.

“We’re going to go into a hostile environment, and we’re going to win,” Noah said after his Chicago Bulls lost Game 6 of their first round series with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.

From the outside, it seemed a little far-fetched. And if you’re reading this, you already know the circumstances. No Derrick Rose. No Kirk Hinrich. No Luol Deng. Taj Gibson? Banged up. Noah? Banged up. This was (and still is) the M.A.S.H. unit of all M.A.S.H. units.

Meanwhile, the Nets had seemingly found their footing after their brutal collapse in Game 4, earning this Game 7 on their home floor with two series-saving victories. They had outscored the Bulls by 20 points over the course of the first six games. But never underestimate the heart of a … team that’s got more heart … and better defense.

Noah set the tone early, grabbing (or tipping) three offensive rebounds in the first three minutes on Saturday. Eventually, he took his offense to the outside, knocking down a couple of jumpers and attacking the Nets’ sagging defense from the high post.

Oh yeah, the Nets’ defense. It was terrible, especially in the first half.

The legacy of this Nets team may be that they didn’t care. More accurately, they didn’t defend. And appropriately, they started their summer vacation a little early by allowing a really bad offensive team (missing two key components) to score 61 points in the first half of the most important game of the season.

The killer stretch was the end of the second quarter, when Chicago scored on 13 of its final 15 possessions. And one of those two empty possessions was a wide-open corner 3-pointer for a guy – Daequan Cook – who won the 3-point shootout a few years ago. The Nets simply couldn’t stay in front of the Bull with the ball, whether he was guard or a big. Carlos Boozer drove right past Andray Blatche. Noah drove right past Reggie Evans. Marco Belinelli drove right past Gerald Wallace for maybe the biggest basket of the game.

Rinse. Repeat. See you next season.

“They got too many easy layups, easy baskets,” Deron Williams said. “Our defensive principles we didn’t execute today.”

The Bulls’ defense was far from perfect. It allowed the Nets, when they finally played with some energy, to score 31 points in the third quarter and climb back in the game. Brooklyn actually finished with more offensive rebounds (19) than Chicago (13), but they couldn’t convert them as well. And not coincidentally, it was the better defensive team that got the stops it needed down the stretch.

Noah, of course, was the anchor, and he kept Brook Lopez (21 points on 9-for-20 shooting) from ever getting much of a rhythm. Noah himself finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. All effort and energy.

“We were asking him to do a lot, basically be everywhere on our defense,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Defend the pick-and-roll, sprint back to the basket, close out, block out, pursue the ball. In every aspect of our defense, he’s exerting a lot of energy. He’s in unbelievable shape and he can make plays that very few can.”

Of course, Noah wasn’t in great shape a couple of weeks ago, dealing with plantar fasciitis that kept him out of 13 of the Bulls’ final 16 regular season games.

“The day before the playoffs, I was barely walking,” he said.

He played just 13 minutes in Game 1, but gradually started to feel better. And he obviously felt great on Saturday. Promise fulfilled.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

53 Comments

  1. #BullsFanDan says:

    This one of the best Bulls games I have ever seen, and I grew up watching the Bulls dynasty. The heart the team has, the hustle and the sheer will to win are what makes this team so fun to watch. The never give up. Coach Thibs has all the players convinced that they always have more than enough to win everygame. This team is relentless. They refuse to lose. Go BULLS!

  2. Marco29 says:

    Great game by Noah and great win for the Bulls. If only Noah could be healthy to play the Euro Championship in September for the French national team. He brings so much energy on both ends and a great presence at the center. If he is not 100% heathly, he will not go also the Bulls will probably pressure not to go in order not to jeopardize their chances next year when Rose returns.

  3. sl5755 says:

    WHERE IS DERRICK ROSE?????????!!!!!!!

    Bulls play tough, mid-west hardness, M.A.S.H is ok, no shame.

  4. Go Chitown-great series-Bulls should have won 4-1. Noah has become a F!!??! beast & matured his game this season-he’s brought a lot more energy to the game this year. I wonder if he took some tips from KG-lol-or if Thibs called Doc & asked him to tell KG to ruff him up a lil last year-noticed starting this year that Noah started thumping his chest like KG does-actually noticed a lot of players doing that this year. Anyway, bigups to Thibs, Noah. Nate, Bulls-now go smash miami!

  5. Ben Franklin says:

    I am a Derrick Rose fan, but I am upset about a few things. One, all of those adidas “return” commercials… making millions selling shoes off of the concept of him coming back soon. The whole concept of the commercial showing him returning to the court, then him not even coming back!? what a freakin shame and what disrespect to his fans. my second reason being upset is this: if no player played unless they were 100% healthy like D rose is claiming hes waiting to be, there would literally be no games played. How many players can really say they are 100%? its a professional, PHYSICAL, sport… everyone is at least a little banged up and has injuries. and to the ppl saying they agree with him for not playing so he doesnt reinjure himself, umm hes been practicing, FULL ON 5 on 5, for months… should he not even be doing that either? the only way he will get better is to PLAY

  6. bu says:

    As for the series with the Heat, I’m sure the Bulls will make them earn every single point scored. However, with this depleted team, no one can guard Wade, & LBJ (esp he improved this yr noticeably) 4-2 for the Heat.

  7. bu says:

    Great win for Bulls! Enjoyed watching them play every minute. Great D, hustle, energy, team ball, & will to win. They were no match for Nets on paper but now it clearly shows system, spirit, toughness win games. Thibs should be coach of the year!!!

    I’d say PJ may not be the right coach for the Nets as it’s never easy to build a system for this group of stars. Perhaps P-Jax plus a good defensive coach will make the Nets rock.

    And, also agree with the guys about Rose should be back later, not to rush.

    Noah is the guy who’s not flashy but get the job done by bringing energy & hustle & smarts on the court night in night out. Hands down to him.

    But I think it was really a team effort not just 1 guy, that won the series. Nate, Hinrich, Boozer, Bellineli, Deng, Mohammad, Gibson….. everyone played unselfishly & supported each other.

  8. Duv says:

    I’m not a Chicago fan but I love the heart and determination the Bulls play with, especially NOAH. Imagine how great the NBA would be if ALL 360 regular squad members played with NOAH’s attitude and intensity. There are only a handful of others who do and one of them, unsurprisingly, just won his 4th MVP in 5 years.

  9. Jason says:

    Great win for the bulls, despite having the injuries they have. They are most likely going to lose to Miami, but I’ll be rooting for them. Joakim Noah will be playing hard no doubt.

  10. W/E says:

    Noah is the real Bulls leader, he is playing to win motivating everyone in his team contrary to D.rose who is watching like a geek from the bench. The series vs the Heat might be the best time for Rose to come back and play, he has the most dangerous team in the east right now, his teammates are determined to do whatever it takes to win they could do some real damage to the Heat but i dunno if he can play any good now that he lost his confidence,he might screw the team up if he decides to play but i dont think so cause he is scared.

  11. Bird33 says:

    Yay coach Thibs and Bulls! BEAT THE HEAT!!!

    Yes – I’ve lost some respect for D Rose too – I thought he had more grit and determination….I guess not. If he’s not careful, he’ll be talked about in the same sentence as Dwight….yes, I realize what a low blow that comment is LOL :-)

    C’mon Derek….a return against the Heat would make everyone forget the lack of communication and “will he or won’t he return” foolishness that’s happened so far…… !!!

    Go Bulls! Go Coach Thibs!! We miss you in Boston!

    • Bird33 says:

      And yes, Dirk N, you certainly know a “beast” when you see one!! Way to go Noah!!

  12. Jimmy Buckets says:

    also Noah is gonna chew Bosh up…i mean its gonna be bad Bosh is a softie. Heat fans google bosh flop on boozer thats all i have to say

  13. Art says:

    It was really team effort and all played very well but when Thibodeau failed to admit how great Noah played he did show again what an idiot he is. He was the only person yesterday who didn’t say that. Is he a great coach? Give me a break.
    Playing Deng, Noah and Boozer (at the end of the regular season) for 40+ minutes he exhausted players and made them very vulnerable to injury or sickness. Why Bulls have under Thibodeau more injuries than any team each and every year?
    It’s true, he coached the last game very well, but if he played Teague and Cook in game 6 and gave Robinson and Belinelli a little rest Bulls could win in that game.
    Noah performance was outstanding. He is a leader of this team and the best player.
    Stop discussing possible Rose return please. It’s too late and if Hinrich able to play Rose is not needed. If he couldn’t play against Nets when Kirk was out it means that he can’t play as good as Teague.

  14. Mikhail says:

    There is now way BULLS can defeat HEAT…

  15. sanjay says:

    the heats have to come with lot of energy and send a message for the physical playing chicago! They cant try to be smooth!
    the 3 point loaders must be ready and when lebron is pounding the post( along with anderson/bosh). Wade must get healthy and he is needed! Cant open the door for bulls here. heat has to take care of business at home first!

  16. Shawn says:

    Noah performed sensationally, but it was all about what the great coach Thibodeau said after the game, when questioned about the play of Noah. He said it wasnt about Noah or any single playe (in better words)r. That this win and philosophy is that every player is important, every role crucial to win and everyone, including the rookies, and the entire bench stepped up. This is about Luol Deng who was not there, but who played the entire game on both ends of the floor relentlessly all season, and gave it all he had until his body collapsed, of course needing recuperation… and the young boy stepped up and filled his shoes the right way. I must say this is the greatest team i have ever enjoyed watching in my generation. What an honor! What a great game! A Keeper! GO BULLS!

    • #BullsFanDan says:

      Shawn you took the words rith out of my mouth. I am glad I went to five road games this season to watch the Bulls. And I never miss a homegame. I am so proud of my team. #BULLS

  17. bogartski says:

    dwight howard must learn to noah!

  18. sportsfan says:

    Thibodeau really prepared his team, this is great coaching. No Rose, Deng, & Hinrich and the Bulls still won game 7 on the road. The Nets are not a pushover, they’re a talented team but lacking great coaching. A lot of people throughout the year kept touting George Karl but his mighty 3rd seeded Nuggets lost to the 6th seeded Warriors in just 6 games – bad preparation & coaching. Thibodeau is the true coach of the year.

  19. pokie says:

    The Nets should be ashamed of themselves. That was the most gutless Game 7 performance I have ever seen in my 35+ years of watching the NBA playoffs. To lose by only three baskets after not showing up for the entire game leaves me with a bubbling sense of disgust. Never again. You lost me, Nets. You lost me.

  20. dattebayo says:

    I have no problem with Rose sitting out this season, but I’d be immensely disappointed if he just sat out because he has no faith in his team as in “this team is not good enough to win”. He is a special athlete, that heavily relies on his athleticism (much more than James and Wade) and if he really feels limited and can’t go, than kudos to him for being brave and sitting out. The media and the fans put a lot of pressure on him to come back and it takes a lot of conviction and heart, to do what he feels is right. As it is often the case, doing the right thing is much harder and seeing his teammates perform despite injuries and illnesses, must be tough on him too.

    As a fan, I will be disappointed if we don’t get to see a competitive Heat-Bulls series with Rose, but seeing how the entire Bulls team is hobbled and limited, it seems like it’s not meant to be. Of course it was a hit to the Bulls depth, when they let Asik and Korver walk for nothing. However I really believe that they have enough to beat the Heat, when fully healthy. The Bulls defend the 3 point line well and with Butler, Deng and Gibson they have 3 solid defenders with long arms and size to guard Wade and James. If the Bulls were all healthy, they would give the Heat a run for their money and they would have a chance to beat them.

    btw. how much of a warrior is Luol Deng? The doctors couldn’t figure out which illness he has, so they performed a lumbar puncture on him, and that dude still wanted to play a few days after that, with his illness. Get well soon Lu!!

  21. Alan Hollway says:

    Noah and Boozer makes a good double and a very good team tough to beat but add a Rose return next year and you have a team who will challenge the best including Heat, Thunder and Spurs. The bulls grind it out with Noah and Boozer but Rose adds the spark and unpredictability. Heat had better win it this year because they may not get past the Eastern Conference next year.

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      Lmao sure delusional Bulls fan. You forget the Heat kicked your butts in 2011 with a healthy Rose! I hope Rose is better than ever when he gets back so we can crush you again. The heat have made the finals two years in a row and this will be the third straight year. Have respect Bulls fans cause your team hasn’t been to the finals since Jordan so shut up!

  22. aron says:

    Rose is completely healthy. He is the only NBA player coming back from injury of recent memory who still refuses to play because of some petty reasoning. Thank God for the likes of Noah, Heinrich, Gibson, Deng and Nate gritting through the pain in these high intensity playoff games just for the sake of keeping the winning tradition. They don’t care if they are 110% healthy. They don’t give a cent about being playing injured. They just want to play and to win.

    Unlike the franchise player who sits pretty. Afraid to play because of the chance of another injury. Why is he even an athlete to begin with? A shame. If only someone could find a way to replicate Kobe’s mentality and transplant it to Rose then all would be happy.

  23. Gpaul says:

    NOAH FULFILLS PROMISE WITH HUGE GAME 7 Remind me how Jordan ni 1998 ECF Game 7 said: “We will win game 7.” Somebody asked:”You promise?” Then he answered: ” I never promise, even to my wife…(laugh in room) I told you – we’ll win game 7!”

  24. klipster says:

    the nets are the most idiot team in the league. i lost my money because of them.

  25. JOHNNY says:

    bulls are a dirty, rough, cheating team…..looking forward to seeing them swept by the GOAT

  26. Ralph says:

    Led by Noah, this was a great team win. From top to bottom, everyone contributed. Go Bulls. Beat the Heat. Make LeBron cry (again).

  27. I'm not a HEAT fan... says:

    I feel so sorry for the Bulls, They choose to die brutally behind the greatness of the HEAT rather than die with honor in Brooklyn. Tsk, tsk, tsk…

  28. Giovanni says:

    Marco Belinelli 22 pt. 7a. in game 6: no mention. 24 pt. in game 7: just one mention. Do you have any problem with him? Anyway, great job by the Bulls, with so many injured players.

  29. ThunderRocketsFan says:

    Great job, Bulls! Valiant effort and loved watching especially Noah & Nate Robinson play. Their effort & love for their team & city are inspirational!

  30. Chris says:

    I seem to recall a lot of criticism coming Noah’s way earlier this season. Rose may complete the package but where Rose may be the heart I think Noah is the soul of the team

  31. JaybeeY says:

    Like I said before, the Nets does not have it yet. Go Bulls!!!

  32. brooklyn says:

    full credit to the bulls they played harder than us .. hopefully the bulls give the heat a good series, BEAT THE HEAT!!

  33. Jordan to Rose says:

    Go Bulls. Grind it out.

  34. Pancho22 says:

    I’m glad the Bulls won.
    I can’t believe how good Noah is. When the Bulls drafted him everyone thought that were crazy picking him so high. I thought this too. Was I wrong. Noah does everything you ask of him, and then some. He may not be the most talented, but he works hard and is excellent in energy, heart, and intangibles.
    That being said, I would love to see Rose play against the Heat. I think he owes it to his team to at least play some limited minutes. Everyone else is busting their hump and getting out their and playing. No one is at 100%. He needs to play.

  35. karmazz11 says:

    nets are the nets, the only surprise for me is that the bulls needed 7 games to out them, but with their roster i forgive them.

  36. mrcpg says:

    Hated Noah in college, but he’s one of the best hustle and heart guys in the NBA and he’s won me over with his play. This Bulls team is so much fun to watch. Just wish D-Rose was playing. They would’ve destroyed the Nets if he was on the floor.

  37. Random says:

    Nets are awful, Bulls have so many starters out and yet Net lose this series… I watched every single play of the last quarter and realized that Bulls are not good offensively, yet they… yea grind out the points somehow. Hats off to the Bulls. One more thing, Rose should be ashamed of himself, and he better start preparing himself to play the Heat. Him being out there even if it is just for few minutes would be huge boost mentally for his teammates, like what Griffin and David Lee did for their team…

    • Bulls are rose says:

      I can’t agree more, D.Rose should come back now because his come back may lift up Bulls’ chances against the Heat

    • AndOne says:

      I realize from your post you are an outsider, but that’s no excuse to compare a player who tore his ACL to another who has been banged up. Lee does need surgery, but his injury is not so serious that he needs it post haste. Derrick’s was and it in reality takes more than a year to heal from that kind of an injury. Some players have not needed that kind of time and far too many of them have damaged their careers beyond repair by coming back too soon. Derrick does not need to come back and play five minutes or some ridiculous fixed playing time. He’s a superstar and the franchise to the Chicago Bulls organization. I for one and I seem to be in the minority of other Bulls fans admire Derrick not getting back on the court and waiting until next season where every NBA player basically starts fresh. I want Derrick Rose of the next 10-15 years. I don’t want to seem him play one un-needed minute and get hurt and not ready for next year because all the people including you who painted this kid in a negative light will turn on him anyway if such a disastrous thing would befall him. He’s a good kid and trying his best and the only shame that should be felt is uneducated fans like yourself that think otherwise.

      • Jig says:

        Im glad you said what you said. Im also of the minority that believe Rose should sit out until next season. Also dont forget playing against the Heat without actual game time will be Killer on Rose. James & Wade will go at him and purposely force him to over exert, and possibly even go at his injury in an attempt to aggrvate it. not injure him, but force him to be tentative. Remember when Deng first injured his wrist and he said ppl were swatting at his wrist. plus, having several knee injuries from never letting one fully heal, i can attest that wait is more well worth it since this is his career. if he came back early and reinjured that only thing ppl will say is that he shouldve never came back and then be pissed about that. Rose should wait.

      • eris says:

        I realize different people need different things, but I don’t think it’s simply because of the nature of the injury that’s keeping him back. There’s some mental block he needs to get over first. Rubio and Shumpert also had torn ACLs, and both of them returned very shaky, but have improved since. Shumpert was instrumental in the Knicks’ win against the C’s.

    • olrem says:

      Not the same thing… Rose hasn’t played all season, putting him in on game 7 could have been disruptive to the way the team’s been playing and it was a major game. Hope he comes back against the Heat though: the Bull’s will really need him.

      • manny says:

        At first I thought that rose is being selfish by letting Noa do all this have lifting although Noa is also banged up but I think you are absolutely right. rose return would disrupt the chemistry and send the wrong message to Nate Robison and the other players that have played at a very high level during rose absence. As great as Rose is Nate Robison did fill Rose shoes

  38. Bespoken says:

    Congrats on the gutsy win, the dunk Noah had was the play of the game for sure. D-will kept feding the ball to JJ at the last 5 mins hoping he’ll eventually get hot. JJ should drive to the basket more for at least chance for some FTs and D-will should have made more plays by himself after the and 1. Anyhow, hope Bulls will have the same intensity for the upcoming round! Bring on the heat!