Bulls injured center Joakim Noah limited to 20-25 minutes vs. Nets
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com April 22, 2013 8:02PM
Joakim Noah (C) of the Chicago Bulls drives between Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez (11) and Joe Johnson (7) during game one of their first round NBA playoff game April 20, 2013 at the Barclay Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Don EmmertDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
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Updated: April 23, 2013 9:56AM
NEW YORK — It wasn’t pretty, and it won’t be pretty.
This is what center Joakim Noah is and likely will be for the rest of the playoffs: all heart, lumbering around on one foot.
After coach Tom Thibodeau ruled Noah out of Game 1 on Saturday morning, Noah talked his way into starting despite the plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
He spent the day off Sunday and all day Monday leading up to Game 2 going through treatment, including acupuncture, ice, heat and anything else the training staff could come up with to ease the pain. But Noah was obviously frustrated and yelled at an assistant coach just before the shootaround Monday morning.
Thibodeau was hoping Noah could slow down Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez, who scored 12 of his 21 points in Game 1 in the first quarter.
“They’re a team that’s been starting off fast the last few weeks, so we have to make sure they can’t get rolling,’’ Noah said.
Mission accomplished early on, but Lopez eventually made the adjustment.
Noah played only seven minutes in the first quarter and again struggled offensively but held Lopez to two points from the free-throw line. In the second quarter, however, Lopez turned into a jump shooter and scored 10 points on Noah, all but one coming from at least 19 feet out.
But Noah stepped it up in the second half, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.
That doesn’t mean he’s going to resemble the player he was in the first half of the season, but it was another sign that the Bulls were getting healthier.
Forward Taj Gibson’s sprained left medial collateral ligament is better, and guard Kirk Hinrich left Game 1 with a bruised left thigh but was back in the starting lineup.
“We dealt with it all season long, and I think that’s part of the challenge of an NBA season also, how quickly you can adapt to things,’’ Thibodeau said. “Now the challenge becomes guys coming back. We’re fortunate now where we do have a lot of guys healthier than earlier in the season, so it’s a plus, but we have to get into a rhythm quickly.’’