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Joakim Noah renews rivalry with Kevin Garnett

Bulls center Joakim Noah Celtic center KevGarnett watch first two Bostfree throws fourth quarter Chicago Bulls 101-95 loss BostCeltics Monday

Bulls center Joakim Noah and Celtic center Kevin Garnett watch the first of two Boston free throws in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 101-95 loss to the Boston Celtics Monday November 12, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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BOSTON – There have been some improbable friendships forged between players coming out of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

Don’t expect that to happen with Eastern Conference teammates Joakim Noah and Kevin Garnett anytime soon.

The two get reacquainted tonight in Boston for Round 4 of the season series, and with some bad feelings brought onto the court.

It was after the Jan. 18 win in the Garden that Noah was again critical of Garnett and the way he carries himself on the court.

“[I was] just playing defense,” Noah said then. “Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He’s a helluva competitor. He’s always on some bulls---. Always on some bulls— … Just trying to throw elbows. Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he’s a vet. He’s been doing this a long time, but it’s all right.’’

During the 2010 playoffs, Noah also took some shots at Garnett.

“He’s a dirty player, man,” Noah said at the time. “He’s a dirty player. That’s messed up, man ... I’m hurting right now because of an elbow he threw. It’s unbelievable. He’s a dirty player. It’s one thing to be competitive and compete and all that, but don’t be a dirty player.’’

Noah was a bit more guarded at the Wednesday shootaround.

“I don’t know if you would call it a relationship,’’ Noah said. “He’s a hell of a competitor and I know he’s going to do everything he can to try and win a basketball game. He’ll do whatever it takes. And we feel the same way, so it will be a fun game tonight.’’

Asked flat-out of he respects Garnett, Noah responded, “Yeah, I do respect him. I think he’s a hell of a competitor. Yeah, I respect him.’’

A bigger concern for Noah than KG elbows, however, is the plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Noah said after the San Antonio loss that they needed to come up with a better plan to get him ready for games, as well as get him practice time, and that search still continues.

“Trial by fire,’’ Noah said of that process.

As far as participating in this weekend’s All-Star Game, Noah didn’t want to look that far ahead.

“I think I’m worried about the game right now, focus on the Boston Celtics,’’ he said. “It’s a big game, last game before the All-Star Break. Want to set the tone.’’



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