Weather Updates

Joakim Noah bounced after alma mater Florida

Updated: April 26, 2012 8:27AM

Coach Tom Thibodeau walked out of the locker room for his pregame media session Saturday just as Louisville was rallying to take a lead against Florida in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

How’s Joakim Noah doing?

‘‘I’m sure he’s doing fine,’’ Thibodeau said.

But Florida’s losing now.

‘‘Maybe not so fine,’’ he deadpanned.

Unfortunately, Noah’s day only would get worse. Whether or not it was a residual effect of his beloved Gators falling short of returning to the Final Four for the first time since Noah won the second of back-to-back titles in 2007, Noah not only had a sluggish start against the Toronto Raptors, but he didn’t even make it through the first half.

After being called for a foul on a driving Andrea Bargnani with 1:28 left in the second quarter, Noah was given a technical foul by referee Derrick Collins for arguing the call. And when he threw the ball with two hands in Collins’ direction on the other side of the lane, referee Courtney Kirkland gave him a second technical foul and an automatic ejection.

It was that kind of night for Noah. He finished with two points on 1-for-2 shooting, two rebounds, two assists and two fouls in 12 minutes. Jose Calderon hit two free throws for the technical fouls, and Bargnani made both free throws for the personal foul to give the Raptors a 55-50 lead. So while Noah was in the game, the Raptors outscored the Bulls 36-24. Without him, the Bulls outscored the Raptors 26-19 in the first half.

With Noah ineffective and then unavailable, the Raptors controlled the boards against the Bulls, who lead the NBA in rebounding. The Raptors outrebounded the Bulls 26-16 in the first half. Just three days earlier, the Bulls outrebounded the Raptors 49-41 in a 94-82 victory in Toronto.

The Bulls came into the game outrebounding their opponents by 12.4 in their previous seven games. Outside of Derrick Rose, it’s their most consistent weapon, and one that’s tough for teams to neutralize. And Noah is the key. ‘‘It’s tough because Noah’s so tenacious,’’ Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ‘‘[Taj] Gibson is a tenacious rebounder. You’ve got to have a razorlike focus to really get a body on those guys. Because Rose is always penetrating, you’re always in help position. So if you don’t contain the ball, they do a great job of crashing the offensive boards.’’

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.