Bulls’ Joakim Noah makes bold prediction for Game 7 vs. Nets: ‘We’re going to win’
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 9:54PM
Updated: May 3, 2013 6:58PM
“Broadway Joakim’’ suddenly had a nice ring to it.
Following Thursday night’s 95-92 Game 6 loss to Brooklyn at the United Center, Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah called his team’s shot heading into the now deciding Game 7.
“I’m ready to play,’’ Noah said. “I want to go play right now. That’s my emotions. We’re a team of fighters, you know. We keep getting punched in the face, but we fight back. I’m proud of this team, and we’re going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we’re going to win.’’
Tough words from a team that once had a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and has now lost two straight to even draw it out to a do-or-die game in Brooklyn Saturday night.
But the history wasn’t getting lost on Noah. He was born and raised in New York, the birthplace of famous sports guarantees, starting with “Broadway’’ Joe Namath’s.
So when later asked what it would mean to return home and break his old city’s heart, Noah again pulled no punches.
“I’m just ready to kick some ass,’’ he said.
It would be nice if he had some more help this time.
Already without Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) for a second-consecutive game, the Bulls were hit with a flu-like virus that hit Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson. It was so bad for Deng that he had a spinal tap done on Wednesday night to rule out spinal meningitis, but it came back negative. Deng also showed up negative, scratched from the start and sent home just before tip-off.
Meanwhile, Nate Robinson, who started for Hinrich, gave the Bulls just under 42 minutes, and that also included taking some time to sit on the bench in the third quarter with a bucket in front of him to help with the vomiting.
“If there is a team in the league that plays harder than them I don’t know who it is,’’ Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said of the Bulls.
Too bad the Bulls and their coach Tom Thibodeau aren’t in the excuse business.
“We’re still the Chicago Bulls, down three, four, five, seven people, we’re still expected to win games, so at the end of the day we didn’t do what we were expected to do,’’ guard/forward Jimmy Butler said.
But it wasn’t because of a lack of chances.
Even after allowing 33 points in the first quarter, the Bulls kept the game close in the second half, hoping for the Nets to have a repeat of Game 4 where they lost a 14-point lead with three minutes left and eventually fell in triple-overtime.
Marco Belinelli, who scored a game-high 22 points, hit a three pointer with 2:19 left, cutting it to a 90-88 deficit. Andray Blatche hit a seven-foot jump shot to put the Nets up four, but Robinson answered with a jumper of his own.
After missed opportunities by both teams, as well as missed free throws, Belinelli had a chance to tie the game with a three, but the miss went long. Noah ran it down, but stepped out of bounds. Game over, right? These are the Nets, so the game is never over. Noah tied up Deron Williams on the inbounds, forcing a jump ball, but Joe Johnson grabbed the tip and ran the clock out.
“We’ve been short-handed most of the year,’’ Thibodeau said of the circumstances hitting his team. “Guys have been called upon all year to get the job done. I feel we’re more than capable. We need one great game and that’s all we’re thinking about.’’