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Joakim Noah focused on Game 3, not ‘individual accolades’

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) tries block Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans (30) first half Game 2 their first-round

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) tries to block Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans (30) in the first half of Game 2 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 22, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau thinks there will be a time when center Joakim Noah will be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. It wasn’t this season, though.

Noah earned 13 first-place votes but finished fourth. Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol won the award with 30 first-place votes.

‘‘I thought [Noah] and Luol [Deng], you can make a strong case for both of them,’’ Thibodeau said Wednesday. ‘‘Jo is very unique. That’s one of the things I like about our team. Jo’s got great versatility where he can guard all five positions.’’

As far as Noah was concerned, it was no big deal. Then again, his focus is on the playoffs and making sure the plantar fasciitis in his right foot is calm enough to allow him to play the 20 to 25 minutes he will be restricted to.

‘‘It’s not about [awards] right now,’’ Noah said. ‘‘It’s not about individual accolades or any of that. All my energy is on Game 3 right now. We put ourselves in a pretty good position. Now we’ve got home court. That’s what it’s all about.’’

Noah said the pain in his foot was manageable, which was all he could ask for.

‘‘Plantar fasciitis sucks,’’ he said. ‘‘It feels like you have needles underneath your foot while you’re playing. That’s what it feels like, so you can imagine. It’s not easy, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.’’

Not believing it

Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson also is fighting through plantar fasciitis and said he
was a game-time decision for
Game 3. But no Bulls player thought he wouldn’t play.

‘‘Yeah, he’ll be there,’’ swingman Jimmy Butler said.

Noah, though, was the most honest.

‘‘I hope not,’’ he said when asked whether Johnson would play.



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