Noah's monster game sparks Bulls
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Bulls fans were certainly scoreboard watching in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game against Philadelphia.
When Joakim Noah swatted Spencer Hawes with about six minutes remaining and the blocked-shot column moved to 10, a loud cheer filled the United Center and many fans participated in a standing ovation.
Noah finished with an impressive 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks, leading the Bulls to a 93-82 victory over the slumping 76ers.
The blocks were a career high, while this was the NBA's first 20-20-10 game featuring blocks since Shawn Bradley had 22 points, 22 boards and 13 blocks in April 1998.
This was the first triple-double for the Bulls featuring blocked shots since Artis Gilmore did it Dec. 20, 1977.
"That's legendary stuff," teammate Carlos Boozer said. "I've never seen a center do what he did tonight. He was amazing."
Philadelphia coach Doug Collins, whose team has lost seven in a row, knows to expect an inspired performance from Noah.
"Make no bones about it, he wants to beat us after what happened in the playoffs last year," Collins said. "He rolled his ankle and it was a tough thing for him. So when he sees us, he's been very, very good all season long."
Noah turned his ankle in the third quarter of Game 3 in Philadelphia and didn't play again in the series, which the Bulls eventually lost in six games.
"No question, that was probably one of my biggest motivations, just rehabbing my ankle," Noah said. "Before the playoffs started last year, I really felt like we were in position to win the championship.
"Derrick (Rose) went down, and it was very hard on the team. Then getting injured and the (Philadelphia) fans, the way they reacted (with cheers). I used that as motivation."
The Bulls (33-25) led this game by 16 points in the third quarter but had to fight off a rally. Philadelphia managed to pull within 75-71 with 6:39 left after a dunk by Hawes.
The Bulls responded with a runner and 3-pointer by Nate Robinson, then a 3-point play from Noah made it 83-71 with 4:47 remaining.
The Bulls played without shooting guard Richard Hamilton, a late scratch because of back spasms. They're also missing Taj Gibson with a sprained left knee, which is one reason Noah played 45 minutes.
Boozer added 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Kirk Hinrich scored 15.
Luol Deng went to the locker room after taking an elbow to the chin while defending Hawes in the final minute of the game. Coach Tom Thibodeau didn't think it was anything more than Deng getting shaken up.
Thursday marked the 10-month anniversary of Rose suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. The injury occurred against Philadelphia in the opening game of last season's playoffs.
"I thought for sure he was going to play tonight," Sixers coach Doug Collins said before the game. "He got hurt against Philadelphia, come back against Philadelphia, game on TNT. I could just see him running out like the Adidas commercial tonight."
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