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updated: 4/26/2011 11:10 PM

Noah's grandpa sees him play for first time

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  • Joakim Noah puts up an off-balance shot in a lane full of Pacers during Game 5 Tuesday night at the United Center.

       Joakim Noah puts up an off-balance shot in a lane full of Pacers during Game 5 Tuesday night at the United Center.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 

As the Bulls huddled between the first and second quarters Tuesday night, the cameras zoomed in on a 72-year-old man sitting in Section 116.

When Zacharie Noah saw his face on the United Center's giant four-sided video screen, he broke into a familiar-looking smile.

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When the fans roared their approval, that's when Bulls center Joakim Noah noticed his grandfather blown up bigger than life.

He broke from the bench and applauded the man who flew in from Cameroon to witness his grandson playing in the NBA for the first time.

"That was exciting seeing him getting love from the crowd," Noah said. "I look up and I see my grandfather up there. They don't have that in Etudi (his home in Cameroon). They don't have that.

"So for him to be in that situation... I don't think he knew he was going to get love like that in Chicago. Like I said, they don't have buildings like that in Etudi."

With his grandfather, a former professional soccer player, in the house, Noah was more amped than usual and delivered from the jump.

During the first quarter, Noah stacked up 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks as the Bulls broke to a double-digit lead.

In the Bulls' opening 14-2 sequence, Noah's offensive rebound led to a Derrick Rose hoop. Then he drove for a 3-point play and swished a left-handed jump hook.

"I got my grandfather in the building," Noah said. "I got my mom in the building. The building itself was already crazy, so, yeah, a lot of energy going on. I just feed off of that."

Noah finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes.

"Jo's activity was terrific," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Though he missed more than six minutes of the second quarter with 3 fouls, Noah returned to do his part in the second half.

His continual battles with the Pacers big men frustrated the visitors to no end.

Backup center Josh McRoberts received a Flagrant 2 foul and an ejection when he went after Noah with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter.

After the officials reviewed the video to look for additional penalties, Noah hit the accompanying free throws to give the Bulls an 84-65 lead after three.

When Noah and power forward Tyler Hansbrough locked arms in the fourth quarter, Pacers point guard A.J. Price picked up a technical for complaining about Noah.

McRoberts said afterward that he wasn't going to complain that Noah was a dirty player -- a view espoused by the Pacers' Danny Granger -- and Noah didn't feel like he had to work to defend himself.

"Everyone saw what's going on out there," Noah said. "Now you want to go and call me a dirty player? I don't think I've ever been a dirty player."

Then he smiled.

"But it is what it is. It's OK."

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