How Joakim Noah destroyed the dinosaurs: Bulls 104, Raptors 88

Pictured: Dinosaur extinction, courtesy of Joakim Noah.

Pictured: Dinosaur extinction, courtesy of Joakim Noah.

By emerging victorious in an epic Sunday evening confrontation, the Bulls finally wrested the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot away from the mighty Toronto Raptors.

Release the Kraken! Release it I say!

Okay, I’m being a little sarcastic. Maybe even a lot sarcastic.

In all honesty, the Bulls and Raptors are currently engaged in one of the saddest “Clash of the Titans”-style postseason positioning duels I’ve ever seen. Both teams are below .500. Toronto has dropped five straight games and 14 of 20 overall. Earlier this week, Chicago suffered critical losses to the Andrew Bogut-less Milwaukee Bucks and the 12-win New Jersey Nets while barely beating the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers.

Do either of these teams actually want to make the playoffs?

Maybe tonight’s game answered that question. The Raptors — who recently lost Chris Bosh for the season due to a broken face — fell behind by 10 at the half (58-48), by 19 after three quarters (84-65), and by as many as 25 in the fourth (94-69). It was like the home team had been hypnotized into thinking this was a preseason game.

Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, bricked two free throws and the crowd booed him with extreme prejudice. Late in the fourth, a Jannero Pargo air ball was hauled in by Reggie Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup.

Yep. This one was ugly, folks.

If the Raptors had any will left to win this game, it was broken by Joakim Noah, who finished with 18 points (7-for-10), 19 rebounds and a career-high-matching 7 assists. Forget the asteroid and volcano theories. It was obviously Noah who drove the dinosaurs to extinction. And although the fact that Toronto ranks dead last in Defensive Efficency probably had something to do with Noah’s stat stuffing performance, Joakim obviously brought his A-Game.

And then some.

Derrick Rose — who was big with 26 points and 7 assists — had this to say about Hurricane Noah

“He was focused in layup lines, the locker room, on the bus. He’s giving his all, so you want to do the same when you see that.”

Said Noah: “I knew it was a really important game, I was really focused. I just wanted to go out there and impose my will as much as I could, just be aggressive offensively and defensively. It was a huge win and I just wanted to make sure that our team played harder than their team.”

Well, mission accomplished, Jo. It’s probably worth noting at this point that — for all their recent struggles — the Bulls have won eight of 12 since Noah returned from his plantar fasciitis-induced mini-vacation. Prior to that, Joakim missed 10 straight games…and Chicago lost all of them.

I’m here to tell you Joakim Noah is a winner. He goes full tilt every night. He wants it as bad as anybody. The dude is like a lightning storm in high tops. Noah has limitations, and there are facets of his game that still need to be improved and polished. But honestly, every team would like to have a player like Noah on their roster. Heck, probably a whole team of Noahs (which is a scary notion, now that I think about it). Somebody who will sacrifice their body for the good of the team and would walk face-first through a Kraken attack to win.

Frankly, if the Raptors would have put in half the effort Jo did, they might have won tonight. At the very least they would have competed.

All that said, the Bulls aren’t in the clear just yet. To make the playoffs, they either need a win in both of their remaining games or a combination of one win and one Raptors loss. Or, I suppose, two Raptors losses. But in a perfect world, it’s better for a team to try to win it’s way into the playoffs.

The Bulls have the tougher path. Chicago still has two playoff teams to go through (the Celtics and Bobcats) while Toronto will face two lottery-bound teams (the Pistons and Knicks). But it doesn’t matter to Noah, who is welcoming the challenge with crazy hair and open arms.

“It’s good that we have Boston coming up,” Noah said. “That’s an easy game to get up for. If we were playing in front of [a crowd of] 2,000 in New Jersey, it’s a different situation. We understand what’s at stake.”

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18 Responses to How Joakim Noah destroyed the dinosaurs: Bulls 104, Raptors 88

  1. PTFC April 12, 2010 at 4:32 am #

    They will screw it up and lose both games.

    bobbysimmons April 12, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    Maybe Noah means more to this team the Derrick? I enjoyed the game, especially how dejected Toronto was after the game in the locker room interviews. I love how their coach really had no good answers and Bargnani has already mailed it in:

    It ain’t over yet though, we have 2 big games ahead of us.

    DJ April 12, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    Yah, 2 hard games left: Boston and Charlotte that r in the playoffs! While TORONTO is facing 2 easy teams: Detroit & NY which r not in the playoffs. LET PRAY 4 2 W’s PEOPLE!!!

    GO BULLS!!!

    inkybreath April 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Knicks and Pistons are playing well enough to give them a good fight, as good as we’ll get from our playoff-peeking duo.

    BadDave April 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Just be glad they’re not playing the streaking Pacers.

    Tony C. April 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    On top of everything else, Noah’s decision-making has been excellent of late. He clearly is the leader of the team at the moment.

  7. Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    What happens if the Raptors win their last 2 and the Bulls win one of the next 2? They would still be ahead by 1/2 a game, but Toronto has the tie-breaker. Is the tie-breaker worth more than the 1/2 game lead??

    Adrian April 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    D rose and noah have a chance to do some damage if they can get back to where they were back in december-january..Rose will give shaq nightmares in the pick and roll game, Noah and Gibson can switch on pick and rolls and be able to guard lebron, forcing him to shoot jumpers over their long wingspan..I’m anticipating a first round matchup between the two as long as D rose rises to the occasion and does what 1st picks do

  9. Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    if the raptors win the next two and the bulls win one of the next two, they’d be tied at 40-42. the raptors would be in cuz of the tie breaker

    rocky April 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Noah is a beast and his game is improving a ton. He’s even got a nice little 15 footer that he is knocking down. He takes like 2 or 3 of them every game that looks pretty good. I think if we get into the play-offs its going to be extremely fun. Noah seems to take his game up even more when it’s for all the Marbles and I can see Rose doing the same thing. I think if we can get nab a three point shooter in the off-season the bulls could be real deadly next year. Here’s my plan:

    1. Sign Chris Bosh and J.J. Reddick
    2. Draft Xavier Henry

    Josh April 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Good news: If Atlanta wins tonight, they clinch the 3 spot since they own tie-breaker over Celtics. That means with an Atlanta win, Boston has nothing to play for and will likely rest everyone because of how old and injured they are. Let’s hope. And if Miami or Milwaukee wins one more game that mean Charlotte clinches 7th and may not need to play on Wednesday either. Meanwhile, Detroit and New York could get up for making sure a team doesn’t make the playoffs, it would be a morale victory.

  12. Bullsfan22 April 12, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    I think the Bulls won’t loose the momentum this time. IMO they will play some of their best ball in the last two games and will be ready for the Cavs.

    The general feeling is that they will loose that series, but I think they will make it interesting and not only will it be a real good barometer for where they are as a team (remember how the lost 10 straight games with half of the team injured), it will be good for the free agents to see what could await them in Chicago next year.

    It will also be another chance for Noah and Rose to get more playoff experience for the future. That could be an awesome recipe for the next few years, a battle tested core+strong (potential superstars) newcomers to the team. All still to play for, not just the next two games, but hopefully the next couple of weeks!

  13. chad April 13, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    i dont see us beating boston and charlotte, to do that we would have to be a consistent team, bulls are far from that.

    inkybreath April 13, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    Noah needs 4 more blocks for statistical recognition (he has 96 – as of now would be 15th). Do they care about that at all?

  15. chad April 14, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    please dont let tyrus eliminate us. we will be tired after another hard fought celtic game.

    DJ April 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    don’t worry didn’t eliminate the bulls

    sovi April 16, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    don’t let anything in this earth become extinct…. :)


  1. Toronto Raptors Morning Coffee April 12 | Slam Dunking - April 12, 2010

    […] By The Horns Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, bricked two free throws and the crowd booed him with extreme prejudice. Late in the fourth, a Jannero Pargo air ball was hauled in by Reggie Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup. […]

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