AL HAMNIK: Bulls somehow staying afloat on Noah's ark

2014-03-04T17:30:00Z 2014-03-07T23:27:04Z AL HAMNIK: Bulls somehow staying afloat on Noah's arkAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 04, 2014 5:30 pm  • 

The red "S" fell off Joakim Noah's chest Monday night.

Not to worry, Bulls fans. Even George Clooney has a movie that occasionally bombs at the box office.

Noah and his teammates were thoroughly embarrassed this week in Brooklyn, losing 96-80 in a mismatch that saw the Nets score 30 points off Chicago turnovers.

"Joe" inauspiciously led the way with six miscues to go with 10 points and six rebounds, stats the All-Star would rather stuff in a paper bag and bury out back.

But for what Noah contributes nightly with his non-stop motor, I'd pick him as my center right after Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert.

"Noah's ability to rebound, lead the fast break, take it off the glass, stop at the foul line and deliver the bounce pass is almost like he's a point guard," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said after getting blown out of Chicago last Wednesday, 103-83.

Jackson's lofty opinion is shared throughout the league, so a Noah stinker here or there won't change a thing.

"At the end of the day, it's all about the playoffs," Noah said. "Last year, we had some special moments. First-round, winning a Game 7 (in Brooklyn). Won Game 1 in Miami. We still want more. I want more."

Noah is averaging 12 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 34.2 minutes a game. His ability to scoop up rebounds like a giant vacuum, block and alter shots without fouling, stirs up memories of Dennis Rodman.

Both players were cut from the same fabric. They are non-conformists who stepped out of the mainstream long ago and continue doing their own thing.

"I just go out there and try to get it," Noah said of chasing errant shots. "You hear stories about Dennis. People talk about how crazy he looked, his (technicolor) hair, and it took away from what he brought to the game."  

"He was all about doing your job."

Unlike Rodman, who lives for the spotlight, Noah is the consummate team player; the Bulls' biggest cheerleader on the court or watching from the bench.

Carlos Boozer would love to feel as wanted but has been an enigma since signing as a free agent in July of 2010.

The veteran power forward is often criticized for mental lapses in games, spotty defense, and a preference for jump shots instead of attacking the basket.

Boozer frequently spends the fourth quarter watching from coach Tom Thibodeau's doghouse.

"I know 'Los' is going through a lot with everything that's said about him, his future, and his (shortened) playing time," Noah said. "There are a lot of issues that are frustrating for him but to practice the way he practices, and play like he does every day, shows the kind of guy he is and I really respect that.

"I'm defensive of all my teammates."

Noah also provides a needed shoulder to lean on.

He believes no other team has fought through and survived as much adversity as the Bulls have, losing Derrick Rose again to knee surgery, trading veteran Luol Deng and having seven established players they can actually count on night after night.

Sadly, no one cares. It's the NBA, not a soap opera. The postseason is what validates all teams.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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