Noah putting his best foot forward


Feb 20

By Adam Fluck

After missing seven games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Joakim Noah said he is ready to return to action when the Bulls host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

“Whatever minutes coach gives me out there tonight, I’m just going to go out there and try to do my best,” said Noah.

Noah has been in daily contact with team doctors and trainers over the last two weeks since being shut down in Atlanta on Feb. 5. He discussed coming back with Head Athletic Trainer Fred Tedeschi on Saturday morning. Noah received the green light and will gradually see his minutes increased if all goes well while monitoring his foot along the way.

Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said Noah would not start on Saturday, keeping veteran Brad Miller in the starting lineup for the time being.

“We will put him in the first half and see how he feels," said Del Negro. "We will make a decision at halftime to see how he is doing. If he feels good, I’ll play him in the second [half]. If he doesn’t, I’ll sit him down.”

Besides the uncertainty that comes with testing his foot, Noah expressed some concern regarding his conditioning. He’s spent more than his share of time on the stationary bike over the last few weeks, but admitted it is no substituted for live game action.

“It’s been tough,” Noah said of dealing with the injury. “Some days it feels better than other days. The pain is in different places on my foot—sometimes it’s more painful on my heel; sometimes it’s more painful on the front of my foot.”

Not that being on the sideline has been any welcomed break for Noah, but he said the fact that the Bulls have been winning has offered some consolation. Friday’s victory at Minnesota marked Chicago’s 14th win in its last 20 games and fifth of its last six, including eight wins in its last 10 on the road.

“We’ve been playing great basketball,” remarked Noah. “The guys that we got in the trades can definitely contribute. Obviously, we’ll miss playing with Tyrus [Thomas] and John [Salmons], both big contributors, but we have guys that can bring a lot to the table. I’m just trying to come back and bring something as well.”

For now, Noah and the Bulls will hope for positive results Saturday, combined with the hope of making his foot injury a thing of the past. But there is a possibility the injury could linger on without further rest.

“I’m trying to stay positive and really stay in tune with my body and listen to it,” said Noah. “That’s what my Mom told me to do. Sometimes you want to push through [the pain] because I want to be out there and play, but you’ve got to understand it doesn’t help if I’m not playing healthy.”

Hinrich knocking on door of team history

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich needs one three-point field goal to surpass former Bull Ben Gordon for most three-pointers made in franchise history. Hinrich is currently tied with Gordon with 770 3FGM.

Hinrich's name was mentioned frequently as Thursday's NBA trade deadline neared.

"There was a lot of speculation about Kirk Hinrich, but we didn’t want to lose him," said GM Gar Forman."He’s a real glue guy for us and he’s a leader."

Over a span of six games (Nov. 26-Dec. 8), Hinrich missed time with a sprained left thumb. Chicago went 1-5 while he was out. He also missed the Jan. 18 game at Golden State, also a Bulls’ loss.

On the year, the Bulls are 27-20 when Hinrich suits up, including 18-8 when he starts, and they are 1-6 without him. In 2008-09, the Bulls went 28-23 with Hinrich and 13-18 without him.

Audio—Bulls center Joakim Noah on returning to action, missing out on playing in Madison Square Garden and the recently traded Tyrus Thomas (02.20.10):

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on getting Noah back into the rotation and the addition of Hakim Warrick (02.20.10):

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