Noah leaves it all on the court

Atlanta’s Joe Johnson couldn’t recite the exact numbers, but he didn’t need a stat sheet to understand why the Bulls won Game 2 on Wednesday night.

“I thought they attacked the offensive boards a lot,” Johnson said. “They killed us on the glass. That’s just effort.”

Did he say effort? If effort was the difference, then it’s probably safe to assume Bulls center Joakim Noah enjoyed a huge night.

Noah stacked up 19 points (his second-best effort of this year’s playoffs) and a game-high-tying 14 rebounds as the Bulls dominated the boards 58-39.

Half of Noah’s rebounds came at the offensive end, which helped the Bulls earn a 18-10 edge in second-chance points.

When the Bulls lost Game 1, Noah managed just 1 offensive rebound as the Hawks own an edge on the boards.

In honor of Noah’s showing, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau offered an especially lavish version of his unique staccato praise.

“Terrific,” Thibodeau said. “High-energy. Multiple-effort. Great screening. Solid defense. Reacted well to the boards. Was quick. Got to the line. Made free throws.

“I thought he had great multiple-effort mentality from the start of the game.”

Noah appeared to leave everything on the floor during his 38-plus minutes.

When the Bulls called a timeout at the 3:28 mark of the third quarter, Noah stopped at midcourt for several moments and squatted on the floor ... as if he needed to catch his breath in order to reach the bench.

Then, after the Bulls wrapped up their Game 2 win, Noah opted to sit down during his postgame in-house interview with Steve Kashul.

Thirty minutes after the game, Noah had regained enough energy to take his time contemplating a query about how he raised his exertion level from Game 1 to Game 2.

“Mmmm ... I feel like I played with passion in the first game,” Noah said with a smile. “We just didn’t win. I don’t know what to say.”

He had a much better idea how to respond when asked to explain why he pumped up his numbers from 11 points and 9 rebounds to his 19-14 showing.

“I’m not somebody who has a lot of things run for me,” said Noah, perhaps sneaking a sly glance at Derrick Rose seated to his right.

“Derrick just finds me sometimes and I just get some garbage down there. That’s about it, really.”