Noah kicked out of Thunder locker room by Perkins after Bulls’ loss
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter December 19, 2013 9:51PM
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Was Perkins out of line?
Updated: December 19, 2013 11:57PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — There is still fight.
It’s no longer punches, though. It’s a slap here, an annoying flick there.
It’s what undermanned, less talented teams have to do. Poke at the knees and hope the giant trips.
So while the Bulls were competitive in their 107-95 loss to Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday night, the standings never lie. The 9-16 team suffered another loss, its fourth straight and 13th in the last 16..
And while the losses mount, the body count grows.
Earlier in the day, Kirk Hinrich was ruled out of his fourth consecutive game with a back strain that won’t improve. If anything, it sounded like he took a step back.
Then just before tipoff, the same left Achilles injury that cost Luol Deng four games two weeks ago, tightened up and he was ruled out.
Don’t expect him back anytime soon, either.
“I can’t keep trying to ignore it,’’ Deng said. “Pretty much what I tried to do was play and treat it, see if I can play through it, but it doesn’t seem like I can do that.’’
Best-case scenario for Deng is Christmas, and that’s being generous.
And just in case the Bulls weren’t depleted enough, Jimmy Butler had to leave the game after injuring his right ankle when he stepped on Nick Collison’s foot in the second quarter. Butler left the locker room on crutches.
Still, Joakim Noah declared after the latest loss that this was still a playoff team, capable of a big year.
“We’ll be alright,’’ he said. “It’s just no other way. I think guys are going to come back and our time is going to come. I think it’s going to be [quite] a year. … We’re in a situation right now where we’re losing games, we’re still representing the Chicago Bulls. We still represent Chicago. Chicago is a city that deals with a lot of adversity. We’re dealing with a lot of adversity, and we’ve just got to go out there and fight. That’s the nature of this city.’’
Which Noah almost did. Following the loss, Thabo Sefolosha invited Noah into the Thunder locker room, and Kendrick Perkins didn’t like it.
“We just let anyone in the locker room now?’’ Perkins yelled. Noah then asked Perkins if he wanted him to leave and the veteran told Noah, “Get your [butt] up out of here.’’
It was a quick exchange, but heated.
Kind of like Kevin Durant in the second half.
The Bulls had a 55-52 halftime lead before Durant made the final 24 minutes his own personal pick-up game, and the Bulls didn’t have next. Durant scored six points and added four rebounds, two steals and a block in stretching the lead to 13. He finished with 32 points, while Noah’s 23 points and 12 rebounds led the Bulls.
Still, Noah sees only better days coming.
“Yeah, no question,’’ Noah said, when asked if the Bulls were still a playoff contender. “Losing is hard, we’re going through a lot of adversity right now, but I’m proud of this team because there’s no give-up.’’