Noah soars into rare territory
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By Mike McGraw
There was an interesting Philadelphia-related item in Thursday's game notes:
On the same date in 1967, Sixers center Wilt Chamberlain missed his first shot in four games, ending an NBA record streak of 35 consecutive made shots.
What Joakim Noah did against Philadelphia on Thursday at the United Center was impressive. He produced the fifth game of at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in the NBA during the past 25 years — and the first since Shawn Bradley in 1998.
Noah is the only player to record 23 points, 21 boards, 11 blocks and shoot at least 65 percent from the field (he was 8-for-12) since blocked shots became an official stat in 1973-74.
Yes, there's a good chance Chamberlain produced that stat line more than 100 times. But for this era, Noah's night was certainly impressive.
"That was spectacular. That was such a big-effort game from him," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after the contest. "His will, from the start of the game until the end, was just incredible."
Sixers coach Doug Collins had no complaints with his center, Spencer Hawes, who finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds in the Bulls' 93-82 victory.
"I thought Spencer did a good job," Collins said. "Noah is so lively and he's so active and he's just on the move all the time. If you don't get your body on him, he's going to be a nightmare around the rim."
This performance brought back memories of Noah's long list of appreciation tweets after being chosen for the all-star game. One message thanked the person who encouraged him to ride the train from Times Square to Queens for weekend basketball instruction.
It seems funny to think the eighth-grade Noah would pass through one of America's biggest tourist spots not owned by Disney to build his path to the NBA. Noah, his mother and sister lived in the Hell's Kitchen area, on the west side of midtown Manhattan.
"I used to take the 7 train to Junction Blvd in Queens," Noah recalled. "That's where I played basketball in New York.
"It was a gym with my mentor, Tyrone Green. He used to mentor kids and we used to hold practices there. It really changed everything for me, just working out in that small P.S. 49. It was a long train ride, but it was worth it."
Noah didn't have to get up at the break of dawn or anything to catch the train.
"It was more like 8:30, but for a Saturday, it's a pretty big sacrifice," he said with a laugh.
So the Bulls finished February with a 5-8 record, but they're not far from earning one of the top four seeds in the East. A win Saturday against Brooklyn would help their playoff position.
"The playoffs are what it's all about," Noah added. "It's the reason why you work hard in the summer. Everything is geared around playing in the playoffs. As a basketball player, there's no better feeling than playing on that stage. I can't even really describe it, but it's the best. Winning games in the playoffs is the best.
"We've just got to stay focused. I think if we play with the right mindset and we play with one another and we play to our capabilities, we can make some noise."
Bulls ready to add big man:
The Bulls are planning to sign 6-foot-9 power forward Lou Amundsen to a 10-day contract Saturday, a team source confirmed.
Amundson, 30, has played for six NBA teams in seven seasons. He was released by Minnesota on Feb. 8, but earned a reputation over the years as an energetic backup. The Bulls could use some help on the front line with Taj Gibson expected to miss at least 10 days with a left knee sprain.
Amundson is a native of Boulder, Colo., who played in college at UNLV. He started his professional career in the D-League.
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