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Noah, Bulls ready for six-game homestand
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Mar 7
All-Star Joakim Noah said in spite of a sprained thumb he feels good and is confident he’ll be able to play through the injury.
“We don’t have to cut into it. No surgery, everything is good. I feel good,” said an upbeat Noah following the team’s Friday morning shootaround.
“It’s just a sprain. He’s fine,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau of Noah, confirming he’ll play against the Grizzlies on Friday. “From a medical standpoint, the ligament is fine.”
Noah, Thibodeau and the Bulls have won a league-best 22 games since Jan. 1. During that span, Chicago owns the second best record in the Eastern Conference with a mark of 22-9. Brooklyn has gone a conference-best 20-8.
Though the Bulls are beginning a stretch of six in a row at home, facing teams like Miami, San Antonio and Houston – Chicago’s next three opponents after Memphis – will be no easy task.
Noah, however, is up for the challenge.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see what our team is made of against the best teams in the league, especially to be able to do it in this building,” he said. “It’s cool. It’s exciting.”
It’s been a remarkable run for Noah, who has recorded two triple-doubles in his last three games. But he’s quick to credit his teammates, citing the trust that they have in each other as a key factor in the Bulls’ success.
“We have great chemistry on the court right now,” said Noah. “I think our mindset is good and our mentality is about progress and getting better.”
Thibodeau noted Noah’s annual improvement, in particular how he’s making quicker decisions on offense and more effective in the pick-and-roll, leading to an offense that is functioning as efficiently as ever.
“He’s comfortable, a student of the game,” said Thibodeau of Noah. “He has great drive and he’s never satisfied. Those guys always improve. They get better.”
Chicago is 10-2 in its last 12 games, posting 98.2 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting from the field. While hardly typical, it’s Noah, the team’s center, who is often in the middle of it all on both ends of the floor.
Want proof? In his last 13 games, Noah has averaged 7.2 assists.
“Having the ability to run the offense through him is a big plus for us,” stated Thibodeau.
With roughly six weeks left in the regular season, Noah feels good about where the team is at and, more importantly, its makeup. And though there can always be outside distractions, he’s focused on the task at hand, also known as the next game on the schedule.
“Our team is in a good place,” said Noah. “We’ve got a healthy group and it’s a healthy environment. We’re not going to let gossip get in the way of what we’re doing. We’ve gone through so much this year. A little bit of gossip isn’t going to get in our way.”
Audio—Tom Thibodeau on Joakim Noah as the Bulls prepare for the Grizzlies (03.07.2014):
Audio—Bulls center Joakim Noah meets the media following shootaround (03.07.2014):