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Joakim Noah’s foot flares up; out for first Bulls’ playoff game

Updated: April 19, 2013 9:28PM



There was some excitement in the voice of Tom Thibodeau following the season finale on Wednesday, as he was almost breathing a sigh of relief in having a relatively healthy team for the first time since the first half of the season.

That didn’t last long.

The Bulls coach announced on Friday that All-Star center Joakim Noah had yet another setback with the plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and was not only out for Game 1 of the first-round playoff series with Brooklyn, but his entire postseason was now a question mark.

“It’s been a concern since the All-Star break,’’ Thibodeau said of the injury that has cost Noah 15 games so far this season. “That part is something where it’s a tricky issue. He has to try to manage it as best he can. He’s doing all he can. He wants to be out there very badly. But we don’t want him out there if he’s injured.’’

Thibodeau called Noah day-to-day, but with Nazr Mohammed already penciled in as the starter for that first game, Noah sounded like the injury had him completely defeated.

“It’s really hard, it’s really hard,’’ Noah said. “All the work you put in is to play in this situation. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my career right now. Going back home [to New York] and playing in these playoff games means the world to me. Not being able to be ready for that is hard.

“I mean I’ve got a tear in my foot. It is what it is. I’m upset at myself because I let this linger for a long time and I have no one to blame but myself. I just wish I was a little bit smarter. I played games in the regular season that I probably shouldn’t have played, and it’s going to be tough, but these are the cards I was dealt.’’

Noah didn’t offer up any further details on playing “games in the regular season that I probably shouldn’t,’’ but it was obvious that he wouldn’t have tried to come back like he did several times, and would have rested the foot longer.

The injury first flared up back in February and cost him a few games, and the pain got so bad that he finally had to concede to it after a Mar. 21 loss to Portland, shut down until Apr. 7. He came back and played in Detroit, put in 21 minutes of work, but the pain was back the following day, and this time it would cost him four more games.

Noah played in Orlando and the finale against Washington, but didn’t resemble anything close to the All-Star player he was the first half.

And now this. Last year, it was an ankle that cost him most of the postseason, now the foot has betrayed him.

“I’m trying to take all the inflammatories I can just so I can play, and then it flares up on me,’’ Noah said of the recovery process. “Even in the limited time I had in the last two games, it wasn’t pretty. It’s painful and I’m just trying to find solutions.

“It’s tough, but at the end of the day it’s not about one player. I’m really proud of this team. I think we put ourselves in a pretty good situation right now, and I think we’re a very capable group regardless. But I definitely want to be there and help as much as I can.’’

If there is any good news coming from Friday, it’s that the Bulls did go 9-7 without Noah, so did adjust to life without him. That included a win in Brooklyn back on Apr. 4.

“No one feels sorry for us, no one cares that we’re not full strength,’’ Mohammed said.



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