Updated: June 6, 2013 7:23AM
NEW YORK — Who knew?
The NBA might have the fewest surprises in sports people watch, so you have to hand it to the Bulls. All things considered, that’s kind of what the Brooklyn Nets did, losing to the depleted Bulls 99-93 on Saturday.
That will be a popular perspective on the Nets, who might be shipped back to New Jersey after absolutely flubbing their lines in the shadow of Broadway.
But give an immense amount of credit to the Bulls. In winning a Game 7 on the road for the first time in franchise history after six disappointments, the guys from the Madhouse on Madison might have pulled off the franchise’s greatest win not involving a guy who answers to MJ.
Give the biggest hand to “Broadway” Joakim Noah. Promising a victory after the Bulls lost Game 6 in Chicago, Noah had 16 points and five rebounds as the Bulls smacked the Nets in the mouth in the first half, opening a 61-44 lead.
“Noah was a warrior,’’ Nets guard Deron Williams said. “He had a monster game. We had no answer for him down low. They came at us and we didn’t match their intensity.’’
After finishing with 24 points and 14 rebounds, and blocking six shots, Noah celebrated with his family in the city where he grew up.
“It means the world to me,’’ said Noah, who had been hobbled by plantar fasciitis. “Before this series, I didn’t know if I’d be able to play. I could barely walk. To be in this situation, a Game 7 like this in front of my family, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.’’
Tom Thibodeau was his usual terse self before the Bulls pulled off this stunner.
“They’re feeling good. Everything’s good,” the Bulls coach said when asked about flu-addled Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson.
Robinson, you may recall queasily, hurled twice into a garbage can on the bench on Thursday. And Gibson looked like he needed to be in intensive care, not a locker room after the game.
“Everybody counted us out, didn’t believe we could win,” Robinson said. “But we got the victory. Guys like Charles Barkley and Shaq counted us out. That gave us great motivation. Game 7. What a win.”
The Bulls prevailed without Kirk Hinrich, who missed his third straight game with a bruised left calf. They won without Luol Deng, whose flu was so severe that he underwent a spinal tap that brought on side effects including a severe headache.
“Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling much better [Saturday],” Thibodeau said. “He was in the hospital most of the day.”
So what did Thibs do?
He coaxed every ounce out of his healthy Bulls.