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Monday, October 26

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Bulls Wed Mar 24 2010

As the Bulls Turn: Noah Is Back (and That Is Really Good)

Not that the Bulls are likely to make the Playoffs -- they're still 2.5 games back of the Torontosaurus Rexes -- but Joakim Noah is back and playing limited minutes. That, Bulls fans, is excellent news. The murdersome row of games Chicago just endured (10 of their past 11 games have been against teams that are .500+) was also against some of the more efficient scoring teams in the Association; so, Noah around or not, yes, the Bulls were gonna lose the majority of those games. Sorry, Bulls offense is just that bad. But without the pogo-legged Noah lurching through the paint causing altered shots and rejecting would-be dunks, the Bulls were a defensive sieve and the losing got ugly. Now that he's back? Well, the results are not jump-off-the-page amazing, but considering how his minutes are being doled out, Noah's return has brought with it phenomenal "microbursts" of defense, offense and magic okay, just offense and defense.

Monday night against the Houston Rockets (a not bad, not great, average NBA offense) Noah checked in midway through the second quarter and here's what he caused within quarter two alone.

  • 7:45: Noah checks in for Hakim Warrick
  • 7:31: Noah draws an offensive foul on Jordan Hill
  • 6:22: Noah, defensive rebound.
  • 6:13: Noah assists on Ronald Murray jumper.
  • 5:33: Noah, offensive rebound. Pass to Derrick Rose. Rose nails jumper.
  • 5:13: Noah makes sky hook (smooth, no?)
  • 4:03: Noah offensive rebound and put back dunk
  • 3:49: Noah, rebound
  • 2:01: Noah blocks Kevin Martin layup attempt.
  • 2:00: Noah, rebound
  • 1:36: Taj Gibson checks in for Noah

To review, that's six minutes and nine seconds of game time and Noah grabbed five rebounds; drew one offensive foul = turnover = Bulls ball; scored four points; had one block and had one assist (two, if you count the pass to Rose on Derrick's jumper). It's tricky to quantify what Noah does without wandering into sports cliches and hyperbole, but the man does so, so, so much for you, Bulls fans. Be happy he's back. If Chicago has a shot* at catching the Raptors, or Charlotte Bobcats or Miami Heat, Noah will be crucial to that chance at making the playoffs. Now, let's turn our attention to those three squads ahead of the Bulls in the race to get crushed by Cleveland or Orlando in the Eastern Conference Playoffs:

Toronto Raptors

The Torontosaurus Rexes and their prized big, Chris Boshceratops are about to play their four most-important games of the year. If they can get the split or better against Utah, Denver, Miami and Charlotte, there's suddenly breathing room for them in the East. If they stumble against Charlotte and Miami and Chicago wins against Miami, New Jersey and Detroit, the Raps are suddenly looking out and the Bulls are gleefully high-fiving in the locker room. The Raps can be as schizophrenic as Chicago, but with a focused Bosh this squad can wreck. Comical sidenote, has been the juggling of minutes between Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack at point guard with neither really getting into a comfort zone wherein "domination" just appears and they start lobbing no-look alley-oops to Bosh. Meanwhile, fuzzy-faced and noted pizza lover, Hedo Turkoglu can pull a Human Torch and "flame on" at a minute's notice (kinda?), and when he's on, the whole team makes like a squad of ballin' Fonzies: cool.

Miami Heat

You might remember the Miami Heat from such basketball moments as when "Dwyane Wade carved the Bulls hearts out with a last-second game winner in overtime last March," no, that's OK. But Wade is playing ridiculous and if he had any kind of team around him, Chicagoans would be way more concerned about this team. I don't "trust" this team to do anything but they've managed to put up decent numbers all year and their season schedule is incredibly friendly down the stretch -- only two games against teams with .500 or better records, they do have 8 of their last 11 on the road though.

Charlotte Bobcats

The team Jordan bought and Tyrus plays for, this squad is fodder for an upper echelon squad, but for the Bulls they could definitely be the difference between sitting in an arena for the playoffs versus sitting on the couch. Chicago and Charlotte play twice between now and the end of the regular season and with the four team, three spots available Musical Chairs game that's going on, the Bulls will have to be hoping that Tyrus and the rest of the Jordans show up tired and unfocused on those nights.

*Yes, they've got a smallish window to make the 'Offs, doubters and haters, the line starts to the left...

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