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Bulls Fri Dec 17 2010

Bulls Should Be OK Without Noah

Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngWith Joakim Noah out for the next 8-10 weeks after undergoing surgery yesterday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, Bulls fans could be expected to be a bit pessimistic in forecasting the team's future. Yet Steve Rosenbloom and Melissa Isaacson aren't too worried, and neither am I.

Noah averages 14 points per game and ranks fifth in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds per game. And last year, Chicago fans might remember, the Bulls went 6-12 when he was out with a foot injury. But there are two big reasons to feel better about this stretch.

The first is the addition of Carlos Boozer. The 6-foot-9, 266-pound forward is coming off the best performance of his short Bulls career, with 34 points and 12 rebounds (both team highs) in only 26 minutes as Chicago overwhelmed Toronto on Wednesday, 110-93.

Noah did play in that game, as doctors assured him he could do no further damage to his hand, and he contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds. But to those who watched, it was clear that Boozer would have owned the glass against Toronto with or without Noah beside him. Boozer's history of success the past few years in Utah suggests he should be fine operating alone inside.

Additionally, the schedule over the next two months for the Bulls is about as easy as you can expect for any 30-plus stretch of an 82-game season. Most of them are against mediocre or bad teams; the toughest tests will come, in chronological order, against New York, Boston, Miami (twice), Dallas, Orlando, Portland, Utah and San Antonio.

Sure, games will be harder without Noah, their biggest electrical charge and motivator. But the Eastern Conference is very top-heavy and the Bulls will still win games. They might not be the blowouts we just saw against Minnesota and Toronto, but they'll be wins.

So take heart, Chicago--the next month or two of basketball might not be the prettiest you've seen (though Derrick Rose will no doubt do his best to try), but the Bulls should be able to grind out enough wins. In this city, does success come any other way?

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