NEW YORK — Joakim Noah didn’t speak to a crowd of reporters at the team hotel Sunday, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was encouraged by the status of Noah’s right foot.
After missing 15 of the final 18 games in the regular season because of plantar fasciitis, Noah was a surprise starter in Game 1 at Brooklyn and played just over 13 minutes.
“The one plus is Jo felt pretty good today, relatively good for where he is,” Thibodeau said. “Not quite the same soreness that he had previously. So he feels like he can do something (Sunday), which is a good sign.”
The next question is whether Noah should stay in the starting lineup. Brooklyn challenged Noah by going to center Brook Lopez early and often. Thibodeau’s answer was yes, Noah will start as long as there is no set back before tipoff.
“We feed off of what he can do defensively,” Thibodeau said of Noah. “Offensively, he has a very unique skill set because of the way he can pass the ball. A guy like that (Lopez), you’ve got to defend with your whole team.”
Deng looking to bounce back:
Luol Deng made no excuses for his poor showing in Game 1. During 38 minutes on the floor, he made 3 of 11 shots and produced 6 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
“I’ve had bad games before. It’s nothing new,” he said. “You never go out there and try to have a bad game or focus. I thought the game got out of hand early. We should have stayed aggressive, but kind of tried to play our way back into it. But that’s one game. It’s not the first time I’ve played that way.”
Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace, who averaged just 7.7 points this season, scored 14 in Game 1 and had fans in the Barclays Center chanting his name. Five years ago in Charlotte, Wallace averaged 19.4 points.
“Gerald is a great player,” Deng said. “You can’t really judge a player by his numbers. To me, it’s always the effort and he always plays hard.”
Thibs sticks up for Rose:
Tom Thibodeau was asked about backlash Derrick Rose might be receiving for so far electing not to return from ACL surgery. Rose was injured last year on April 28 and had surgery on May 12.
“The thing is, it’s not bothersome because I know all that he’s putting into it and I know who he is. I know his character,” Thibodeau said. “He’s done amazing things for our organization. He’s doing all he can and that’s all you can ever ask a guy to do. There’s always going to be come negativity, but I think the vast majority of it is very positive. Dr. (Brian) Cole said from Day One, it’s going to be 8 months to a year.”
Rose sat on the bench Saturday, just the second time all season he’s done that.
Tough to stop Lopez:
Carlos Boozer talked Sunday about how the Bulls can do a better job of guarding Brooklyn center Brook Lopez.
“You’ve got to make his catches hard,” Boozer said. “First of all, I think he played a monster game, he’s had a great season. But when he catches the ball in his spots, he’s hard to stop. We have to make it tougher on his catch, make him feel a little bit more uncomfortable out there.
“We’ve got to set our tone a little bit better defensively on him, make him look at different looks and make him feel our pressure. I think when we impose our will defensively, we’re a much better team, all the way around.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.