Bulls' Noah on Garnett: 'He's a Dirty Player'

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Bulls' Noah on Garnett: 'He's a Dirty Player'

Sunday, Apr. 18, 2010
2:43 P.M.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND Bulls center Joakim Noah hasnt necessarily endeared himself to Cavaliers fans, and if Chicago somehow gets past top-seeded Cleveland to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, a potential opponent might not be too happy with him either.

After Sundays Bulls practice in Cleveland, Noah was asked if he watched any other playoff games following Chicagos 96-83 loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday.

That was unbelievable yesterday, huh? That Boston-Miami game. Hes unbelievable, that guy? said Noah, referring to Celtics forward Kevin Garnett elbowing Miami swingman Quentin Richardson. Im going to say thishes a dirty player, man. Hes a dirty player. Thats messed up, man.

I dont know about a suspension, but hes always swinging elbows, man. I mean, Im hurting right now because of an elbow he threw, continued Noah, who obviously has a history with Boston from last springs epic Bulls-Celtics playoff series, although Garnett didnt play. Its one thing to be competitive and compete and all that, but dont be a dirty player.

He knows what hes doing. Its wrong.

Noah also pontificated about the city of Cleveland, in the wake of Cavaliers fans chanting, Noah sucks during Game 1, in response to Noahs pre-series shock the world comments after the Bulls regular-season finale, playoff-clinching win in Charlotte on Wednesday.

ClevelandI dont know about Cleveland, said Noah. There is nothing to do. Its bad, man. Its bad.

What, that Cleveland sucks? Noah, went on to sayin jest, when asked about whether the fans derision motivated himbefore turning serious. They played very well. Shaq is back and playing at a high level, and theyre on a mission right now.

Well see what were made of on Monday.

Although Noahs lightning-rod status may concern some, his teammates are supportive, knowing his emotion can be used to the Bulls benefit.

Oh, youve got to love him. I wish they were calling my name like that. Id love it, said Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. It would make me play harder. It should make him play harder. I just love playing away from home and shutting the crowd up, but its going to take some wins.

For that to occur, Noahs matchup against Cleveland center Shaquille ONeal must turn in the Bulls favor.

What do I have to do to wear Shaq out? Hopefully he wears himself out, Noah continued. Weve got to try to make it a track meet as much as possible.

You want me to give him all the credit in the whole world and then, what? said Noah, when asked about the difficulty of stopping ONeal, who dominated the paint, in contrast to the foul trouble Noah and Chicagos other big menrookie power forward Taj Gibson and backup center Brad Millerexperienced on Saturday. Guarding ONeal is as hard as it looks.

Despite their Game 1 loss, the Bulls were in high spirits during Sundays practice, continuing their theme of using the sessions to re-focus, loosen up and motivate themselves. For example, a round-robin game of one-on-one between reserves Jannero Pargo, James Johnson, Joe Alexander and Rob Kurz captivated the rest of the teamincluding Noah, even as he was being interviewed.

I remember when I used to do this with Tyrus and Big Pookie Jerome James my rookie year, said Noah. You get tired and you get really pissed off at the coaches. This is adversity in its rawest form.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

A milk carton was a more likely place to find Bobby Portis than on a basketball floor playing big minutes for the majority of his second season.

He could often be found in the locker room before games and listening to the older players talk to the media afterward, trying his best to fight off the frustration and admitted confusion that comes with the regression of not getting playing time.

When Portis did play, he looked nothing like the confident and borderline cocky rookie who often referred to himself in the third person in interviews. He didn't know when he would play, how long he would be out there or even worse, what was expected of him.

The trade of Taj Gibson at the deadline — preceded by the temporary benching of Nikola Mirotic — put Portis back in the spotlight and he's intent on making the most of it during the last 23 games of the regular season.

"It's fun. You know go out there every day just to know that it's another day I'm going to play," Portis said. "That's the biggest thing for me. I feel like that's already a confidence builder right there, just coming into every game knowing that I'm in the rotation. It's great fun to go out there and play."

It's no secret the front office the Bulls want Portis to succeed and not add him to the ledger of some of the first-round disappointments that can be recalled in recent memory.

The trade of Gibson was certainly underlined with the mantra that Portis should play and the way was going to be cleared for Portis, one way or another. Scoring 19 with eight rebounds against the Celtics on national TV right before the All-Star break probably gave Portis enough validation considering he was thrust into the starting lineup at power forward soon after.

"I don't care about nobody judging me," Portis said. "At the end of the day I'm going to play basketball. That's my job. I'm going to go out there and do the things I do well. I feel like sometimes people misconstrue just because you don't play and they can say some things like that. I don't really care about anybody judging me at this point. At the end of the day I'm still going to be Bobby Portis at the end of the day."

Well, clearly, the third person thing hasn't left the second-year forward, but he said he stayed in the gym waiting on his opportunity, even through a quick but confusing stint to Hoffman Estates to the D-League.

"Just being hungry. Humble and hungry," Portis said. "You know one thing I always strive off of is being humble and hungry. That kept me sane. My mom, I talked to her a lot. She kept me grounded. It's kind of tough not playing and going through the season knowing that some games you might play, you might not play. You know it's about waiting your turn, but at the same time you have to keep working."

Being the fifth big in Fred Hoiberg's rotation didn't leave him a lot of room for Portis to get much run or even find a rhythm, and like many others who've found themselves out of the rotation unexpectedly, it was without much of an explanation.

"Nah, I didn't really know what I could do to get minutes," Portis said. "The one thing that I know that I always do is just come in here every day, work as hard as I can, let the dominos fall how they fall. Every day I come in here, just bust my butt for some minutes, but sometimes it wouldn't work."

Now that he has found himself into Hoiberg's good graces, his improving range has allowed both units to play similiarly.

"I think Bobby has done a real nice job," Hoiberg said. "He was a huge part of our win against Boston in our game right before the break. He just goes out and plays with so much energy. What I really like about him right now is he has no hesitation on his shot. He's stepping into his 3 with good rhythm."

Bulls Road Ahead: Keeping the momentum rolling

Bulls Road Ahead: Keeping the momentum rolling

The Bulls are currently playing their best basketball of the year, winning four straight, including three against Eastern Conference contenders.

How will Fred Hoiberg's group continue this pace during a daunting March schedule? Insider Vincent Goodwill and Mark Schanowski break it down from the Advocate Center in this edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

Check it all out in the video above.