On second thought, Cleveland still not Noah's kind of town


Apr 19

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You had to like the Bulls road effort Monday, even though they lost 112-102 to fall behind 2-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round playoff series.

And you have to love Joakim Noah’s game with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and his defiant insouciance when he was asked whether he regretted comments mildly—and amusingly—critical of Cleveland that got the Hooterville locals fuming and booing at home throughout the game.

“Not at all,” Noah responded about whether he was sorry. “You like it? You think Cleveland is cool? I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.’ What’s so good about Cleveland?”

Obviously, LeBron James, who scored 40 points along with eight rebounds and eight assists, including 15 points in the fourth quarter, to save a Cavs team that led by just three with under five minutes left.

“It came down to them hitting big shot after big shot,” noted Noah. “LeBron’s pretty good. He’s actually an excellent player. He hit some unbelievable shots when his team needed it the most. Yeah, he played an unbelievable game. It’s tough now. I hate to lose. I’m a little frustrated. But I don’t want to be up here giving LeBron all this credit. I don’t think we’re discouraged. If anything, we’re motivated and think we can win, especially on our home court. We have some tough fans, too.”

Though the Bulls lost, they have to like it that it took an extraordinary effort by James at home to scrape out a win.

The Bulls outrebounded the Cavs and dominated Cleveland in inside points, 56-38. They held a 21-7 edge on second chance points, making the Cavs play their game in which the Bulls forced the action and ran, didn’t allow the Cavs to set their defense and turned Shaq back into a large statue.

The Bulls had 22 more shots and committed just four turnovers, doing everything but winning.

Yes, the Cavs had the best record in the league and are the No. 1 seed, so it’s not supposed to be easy.

But the Bulls go home having made the Cavs sweat on their home court. Now, let’s see if Jamario Moon can make four threes on the road and whether the Cavs can hit 10 of 20 threes against a hostile crowd. See if LeBron can keep bailing them out.

“It’s gonna be crazy when we get to the United Center Thursday (for Game 3),” said Derrick Rose, who had 23 points while Luol Deng added 20. “It will be time to ball.”

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