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Center Joakim Noah provides energy, effort Bulls need

Bulls center Joakim Noah had 23 points 21 rebounds 11 blocked shots against 76ers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bulls center Joakim Noah had 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocked shots against the 76ers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 3, 2013 6:12AM



Nate Robinson has seen his share of high-energy players.

The well-traveled Bulls point guard can rattle off a list of NBA players who fit that description,
including himself. But few compare with Bulls center Joakim Noah.

‘‘He’s one of the top players I’ve ever been around that’s one of those high-energy guys,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘And Jo’s a big, and you rarely see bigs like that — bigs that can
really run up and down the floor and do what he does. It’s amazing to sit back and watch.’’

It’s even more amazing to be on the court with.

‘‘He’s a high-energy guy, and when you’ve got a guy to lead you like that . . . that just helps it out,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘It makes it better.

‘‘All I know is, when we’re out there together and things are flowing, it’s magical. That’s something that can’t be guarded. You have that through the course of a game, great things will happen, no matter how things are going. You continue to play with that energy, believe, stay positive, great things will happen.’’

The Philadelphia 76ers saw that firsthand Thursday, as Noah put together a historical performance with 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks in the Bulls’ 93-82 victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Noah became the first player in NBA history to have at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks and shoot at least 65 percent from the field (8-for-12).

That’s why Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who doesn’t always like to single players out for good or bad, said Noah’s ‘‘will was the difference in the game.’’

‘‘He’s an energy/effort player,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘When you get an effort like that, it unites and
inspires your team. It makes other guys do the same. Jo for the big guys and Kirk [Hinrich], Nate — those guys have to bring that
energy from the backcourt.’’

The bigger question is whether Noah can will the Bulls to play their best basketball the rest of
the way. Before the victory against the 76ers, the Bulls were 4-8 in February, with the distraction of Derrick Rose’s return from knee surgery still hanging over them like a storm cloud.

Even Noah hadn’t looked like himself during that stretch, battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot and trying to find the right balance between rest and practice. Still, he said the victory against the 76ers just might help the Bulls get back to the level of play they reached in January.

‘‘It was a good win for us,’’ Noah said. ‘‘Hopefully we can build on it. We have some tough opponents coming up, teams we could possibly face in the playoffs. It’s a good win — we needed it bad — but now we just have to keep going.

‘‘We’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries, a lot of adversity, but no one else really cares. The other team doesn’t care, so it’s just on us to find a way to get it done.’’

Noah screaming with excitement after big baskets and riling up his teammates is a good starting point.

‘‘I don’t think people on the outside understand how important a guy like Jo is for a team,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘Like I said, when it’s all going right, the energy is up, it’s magical.’’



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