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Injured Joakim Noah an ‘absolute warrior’ after playing 39 minutes

Chicago Bulls Joakim Noah reacts during overtime United Center Chicago Ill. Saturday April 27 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

Chicago Bulls Joakim Noah reacts during overtime at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, April 27, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 30, 2013 3:00PM



With Joakim Noah playing through plantar fasciitis, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reiterated Thursday night he wanted his center to play 20-25 minutes.

“Somewhere in there,” Thibodeau said after Noah played 27 minutes in a 79-76 Game 3 win.

Asked if there was a chance to extend his Noah’s minutes, Thibodeau said, “Yeah, a minute or two, or something like that.”

Or more.

Much more.

Noah’s play time Saturday was nearly 39 minutes and only ended because he fouled out early in the third overtime of a 142-134 Bulls win. And after scoring 16 points in the first three games, Noah finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots on Saturday.

“Unbelievable. The crazy thing is, as the series goes on and on, he’s done more and more and more,” forward Carlos Boozer said.

“Joakim has been an absolute warrior.”

Noah said how he feels now versus Game 1 is “not even comparable.”

“It’s a miracle,” he said. “I mean, before this series started, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play. The last month, I must have done 40-50 different treatments. I don’t know exactly what it is that helped me, but it’s a little bit better.”

Thibodeau marveled at Noah’s performance, despite limited practice time.

“He’s sort of mucking through it right now,” Thibodeau said. “But he keeps going, goes after every ball. His defense is always great, and then he found his rhythm.”

In fact, Thibodeau said Noah was at the practice facility working on his shooting Friday night.

“So that’s usually a good sign,” the coach said. “I haven’t seen that in a while.”

Watson scrap

Former Bulls guard C.J. Watson got tangled up with Nate Robinson in the second quarter, with each getting a technical foul.

Asked about Robinson shoving him, Watson said, “That’s in his character so it doesn’t surprise me.”

Boozer downplayed it all.

“It’s just playoff basketball,” he said. “Sometimes, you just get tired of seeing the same face.”

Watson finished with nine points, but he should have been in double figures; in the fourth quarter, he missed a breakaway dunk.

“The basketball Gods were definitely on our side. C.J.’s missed dunk was huge. Thank you, C.J.,” Noah said.

Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo lamented that miss.

“That would have made the lead 16,” he said.

“When it is all said and done, we did not do enough things to win.”

Boozer said he thinks the hard pick by Gerald Wallace on Robinson in the fourth got the guard fired up.

“Nate became a whole different person,” Boozer said.

Defense rests

The Bulls set a playoff franchise records in points (142) and field goals (58). And while they appreciate winning in that fashion, they’d prefer to return to their usual ways.

“You never know how a game is going... You have to win different ways, especially in the playoffs,” Boozer said. “But we’d like to play a more defensive-minded game.”



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