Noah after Bulls’ 107-87 drubbing: ‘We don’t like the Miami Heat’
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter December 5, 2013 11:07PM
Updated: December 6, 2013 12:35AM
Who knew that all it would take to raise the Bulls from the dead was seeing a Miami Heat uniform?
Entering Thursday losers of six of their last seven games, and looking like a team still unable to grab onto any sort of emotion in the wake of losing star point guard Derrick Rose for the season [right knee], the hated Heat seemed to stir up something, as the Bulls had one of their best performances of the season, beating the two-time defending champions 107-87 at the United Center.
Sure, the Heat (14-5) were without Dwyane Wade [illness] and Chris Andersen [personal reasons], but the way the Bulls played both offensively and defensively, it wouldn’t have mattered. Not with a game plan that rested on using their size and inside play to own the paint.
Not only did the Bulls (8-9) outscore Miami 44-34 down low, but outrebounded them 49-27, led by Joakim Noah’s 15 rebounds and 17 points.
“The people in this city, there’s something about when Miami comes to town, you know you wake up in the morning and you feel it,’’ Noah said afterward. “People in this city don’t like the Miami Heat, we don’t like the Miami Heat, and it always feels good to beat them.’’
Asked why the hatred for the Heat, not only did Noah explain it, but again opened up about still dealing with the Rose injury.
“A lot of battles, a lot of scars, a lot of tough losses, a lot of seasons ending because of them,’’ Noah said. “I think that our team needed it. We’ve been through a lot the last couple of weeks, and even for me I think it’s really hard to play without Derrick. I want to win with Derrick Rose. What Derrick represents to the city, there’s not a lot of players that have that. He brings a lot of hope to the city, and I feed off that. I feel really privileged to play in that position, so him going down is just, it’s really hard for him, hard for us, but we have to move on and it’s not easy.
“We’ve been going through a lot of adversity, losing the little homie, Derrick. It’s been really hard on us.’’
Even with the Bulls win, however, it didn’t change the fact that the Eastern Conference was still a two-team race between Indiana and Miami, with the Bulls seemingly on the outside looking in until further notice, or at least until they can show some consistency.
Maybe that first step was taken against the Heat.
“I think we’ve been playing hard,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. “We’ve been disappointed that we haven’t been able to close games out. As I told our players [before the game], I think we’re moving in the right direction, we don’t have anything to show for it, but I see it coming.’’
Now, it’s about keeping it.
“One win doesn’t solve all our issues,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to keep building. The big thing is not to get overly excited about it. Look at it, learn from it, and keep going.’’