Noah's surprise return can't save Bulls

Noah's surprise return can't save Bulls

April 20, 2013, 11:00 pm
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NEW YORK—Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.

Joakim Noah wasn’t expected to play in Saturday night’s Bulls first-round series opener due to his ongoing bout of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but when the starting lineups were announced for Game 1 against the Nets at the Barclays Center, there was the New York native at center.

The first-time All-Star, who said he had a tear in his foot during his decidedly downcast media briefing Friday at the Berto Center, gave it a go in the Bulls’ 106-89 loss, contributing four points, five rebounds and a blocked shot in under 14 minutes of action.

He clearly didn’t look like his typically active self, but when asked about the pain he played through, Noah downplayed the issue.

“[I wasn’t moving] great, but enough. I think it’ll get better. I’m just excited for Monday,” said Noah, who noted that he decided Saturday morning that he would play in Brooklyn for the first time as an NBA player. “I’m not worried about it."

[RELATED: Bulls throttled by Nets in Game 1]

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau chose not to focus specifically on Noah’s performance, but when pressed on the matter, he gave the center some leeway.

“He hasn’t practiced, so he’s going to be rusty, but I’d rather have him out there,” he explained. “Whatever he can give us is a plus. We didn’t play well. It wasn’t Jo; it was our team. He’s a big plus for our team, so we’d like to have him out there. He has to play better; everyone has to play better.”

Noah's Nets counterpart, fellow All-Star center Brook Lopez, finished with 21 points on the evening, 19 of them in the first half.