As Saturday's Game 4 went on and on, there seemed reason to be alarmed about Joakim Noah's workload.
Playing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Noah logged 39 minutes in the triple-overtime thriller. Before the game, coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah's minute limit would be in the 25-30 range.
Noah fouled out in the third overtime but didn't seem to get worn down at all. He scored 10 points in the overtimes and tied the game late in the fourth quarter by following in a Luol Deng 3-point miss with 23.9 seconds left. Noah finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Inside the locker room, he was encouraged by the condition of his sore foot.
"It's a miracle," Noah said. "Before the series started, I thought I wasn't going to be able to play. In the last month, I must have done 40, 50 different treatments.
"I don't know exactly what it is that helped me, but it's a little better. I'm still playing through pain, but it's definitely not what it was in Game 1."
Noah's shot has been off target during this series, but he finally knocked down a jumper in the second overtime and added another to start the third OT.
"I just needed one to go down bad … real bad," he said. "I'm still trying to find what I can and can't do on the court. I wasn't happy with the way I was playing. I believe that my foot's going to get better during this playoff series, and I feel I'll be more effective."
Hinrich plays foul-free:
The Bulls were full of praise for Kirk Hinrich after Saturday's game. He played just less than 60 minutes, producing 18 points and 14 assists, in addition to chasing around Nets star Deron Williams most of the day.
Hinrich's most amazing accomplishment might have been staying on the court. He picked up his fifth foul with 5:39 left in the fourth quarter but never came off the floor and never fouled out. That helped the Bulls, since Nate Robinson, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson did foul out.
"In one of the overtimes, Jimmy (Butler) started guarding Deron," Hinrich said. "I was just able to stay away from it. There was one time I was getting ready to foul Wallace on a fastbreak and just pulled back. I don't know."
Veteran move pays off:
Nazr Mohammed scored the clinching basket for the Bulls when he rebounded a missed Carlos Boozer free throw and laid it in with 19 seconds left in the third overtime. Mohammed got around Andray Blatche on the rebound.
"I haven't seen the play, but it was just 'go for the offensive rebound,'" Mohammed said. "It was nothing that every guy in the league doesn't do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm just happy I was able to get the rebound and make the shot."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.