MIAMI -- After leading the Bulls to another improbable, short-handed victory, Joakim Noah came to the defense of injured teammate Derrick Rose -- who has gotten considerable criticism from all over for not yet returning from ACL surgery.
"Derrick's a brother," Noah said after Monday's game. "To see him go through this, it's tough. But at the end of the day, it's really funny how quick people are to judge; people who don't know what it's like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL.
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"If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations Derrick has, then maybe you can judge. But everybody who hasn't been in that situation before should really shut up, because I feel like it's so unfair to him and to this team.
"We're fighting and everybody's just (dumping) on somebody who's given so much to this organization. It's crazy."
Noah was asked if he's spoken to Rose about all the criticism. Rose claimed he's spending most of his free time with his son and not hearing it
"I think he's dealing with it unbelievable. He's tough as nails," Noah said. "Whether it's praise or people judging him about his decision, he's the same. I really respect that, because I don't think a lot of people could deal with the things he deals with on a daily basis."
Noah says foot a non-factor:
Joakim Noah played 39 minutes in the win over Miami, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Later, he had more encouraging news about the plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"It's almost a non-factor at this point," he said. "I feel very lucky. I feel very blessed. I seriously felt the day before the playoffs started, that I wasn't going to be able to play.
"I'm not going to take any of this for granted, because I know how down I was two weeks ago."
Deng still at home:
Luol Deng has not yet made the trip to Miami. He missed Game 1 on Monday and continues to recover in Chicago from a bad reaction to a spinal tap.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game Deng is feeling better and is hoping to fly down to Florida on Tuesday. Whether he would be able to play in Wednesday's Game 2 is unknown.
Deng had a spinal tap Thursday to test for viral meningitis. Fortunately, he didn't have that disease, but apparently continued to lose spinal fluid after the procedure, which caused a massive headache and at least two more trips to the hospital since then.
Deng had a "blood patch" done, according to numerous reports, to stop the leakage of spinal fluid. He's missed three straight games.
Belinelli assessed fine:
Marco Belinelli was fined $15,000 by the league office for making an "obscene gesture" during Saturday's Game 7 in Brooklyn.
It happened after Belinelli's fourth-quarter 3-pointer put the Bulls ahead by 10. He danced back downcourt while accentuating a certain part of the male anatomy.
Stay classy, Bologna.
More of same from Rose:
Derrick Rose spoke to reporters at Monday's shootaround, but his storyline didn't change -- still not ready for game action, but not willing to rule out playing at some point before the season ends.
"Right now, I'm not ready so I'm just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart," Rose said. "It's definitely hard, but I know that this will be over with pretty soon. Who knows when it's going to stop, but I can't just get down on myself."
James collects trophy:
LeBron James received his Most Valuable Player trophy before the game.
It's the fourth of his career. He won it twice in Cleveland and now twice in Miami.
While handing the award to James in front of fans at American Airlines Arena, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "LeBron James exemplifies the value of our game."
Meanwhile, Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn identified himself as the lone voter who cast an MVP ballot for New York's Carmelo Anthony instead of James. Why that should bother anyone remains a mystery.