Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat

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Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
Posted 9:09 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Injured Bulls center Joakim Noah was in an upbeat mood when addressing the media to provide an update on his progress from his December thumb surgery.

Ive been working for a little while and just ready to get this cast off and get back to work, said Noah. Im just trying to be patient and try to stay in high spirits.

I just want to come back as soon as possible. As soon as my hand is healthy, I want to be back there, regardless of what game it is, the charismatic center continued. I knew I was going to take the pin out Tuesday, so I dont really know if its quicker than usual, but everythings been on schedule.

Noah expressed optimism that hed be able to go on the teams upcoming, five-game West Coast road trip Monday, which coincides with the date his cast is removed.

Right now, Im getting this cast off on Monday, before we leave and then I will rehab it until my hand gets strong, and then I will be out there on the court as soon as I can, said Noah, who acknowledged it was Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus decision as to whether he traveled with the team. Its Thibs decision, unfortunatelyI told him that I was going to get on the plane and hed have to kick me off and physically take me off. I really want to go on this trip. Its cold out here right now, so Im excited to spend some time with my teammates.

For Thibodeaus part, the coach told reporters Wednesday that Noahwho was working on drills with his left hand at the end of Wednesdays practice, much to the delight of teammate Carlos Boozerwould most likely make the trip.

Hes on schedule, maybe a little ahead of schedule, but now he has to strengthen the hand, said Thibodeau. The next step will be getting him on to the court to do non-contact stuff. Hes probably still maybe a week or two away from that. Then, once he can get through the non-contact part of practice, the step after that will be the contact part of practice. When he gets through that, then he plays. Hes still two steps away.

Hes in good spirits. Hes working out. He still cant do anything on the court, but hes doing his conditioning and his strength stuff, Thibodeau continued. I know hes anxious to get back. Hes doing everything that he can. Hes done a great job with his conditioning while hes been hurt. He just has to be patient.

While Noah admitted that conditioning and doing drills with his left hand is nothing like playing in the games, hes striving to be as close to game speed upon his return.

Right now, Im just trying to control what I can control and thats get this hand better, get this cast off, rehab, do as much as I can with my left hand and condition and strengthening, stuff like that. When Im out there, I want to help this team the best way I can, but we have been playing great. Kurt Thomas has been doing a great job for us, said Noah. Its definitely differentjust running up and down compared to all the pounding, physicality and pushing of the game; theres no way to prepare for thatbut Im just doing what I can control and doing the best that I can. Just conditioning, jump rope, squats.

Right now, Im in a cast so theres not much that I can do, but once I get the cast off, thats when I start the rehab, he continued. Its part of the process. I guess theres worse things, but just being in a castIm claustrophobic, so at night sometimes I freak out when I have the castbut hey, four more days.

Noah praised the doctors who performed the procedure, injecting his typical quirkiness to the explanation.

The doctors did a great job getting the pin out. It was a little bent apparently. Its usually a 10-minute procedure and it took a little bit longer than that. Its probably my fault. Im happy that its done and I dont have a pin in my finger anymore. Im just waiting for it to healI must have lifted weights or somethingdone somethingthe doctor wasnt very happy about it.

Im happy that he got the pin out without it breaking.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's 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.

Bulls: Could a knee injury have slowed Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter against Celtics?

Bulls: Could a knee injury have slowed Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter against Celtics?

As Jimmy Butler sat with his sweat-soaked jersey still attached to his body, Dwyane Wade yelled out that all the hot water was gone from the TD Garden showers, a fitting end to a miserable night.

Butler hadn't yet gone to the showers because electrodes were attached to his knees, but it was the left one that prevented him from being as aggressive as he should have been in the Bulls' 108-97 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night.

Butler's 30-foot buzzer-beater to end the third quarter seemed to indicate a harbinger of things to come, giving the Bulls an 81-79 lead. A fourth-quarter explosion likely would have sent the Bulls back to Chicago with a 3-2 lead and a chance to clinch the series at home Friday night.

But he could only muster two shots and barely seemed to push off on his left foot—his lead foot, and it hampered what the Bulls could do late as he was their prime fourth-quarter performer.

He couldn't even go straight up on a jumper over the diminutive Isaiah Thomas without pump-faking, throwing off his rhythm. He wouldn't elaborate on the injury, although he said it happened during the second half of Game 4 on Sunday night when he collided with a Celtics player.

"I'm good. Everyone's a little nicked up; I'll be all right," Butler said in the locker room.

Going 6-for-15 overall, one would have thought Butler was conserving his energy, but he clearly didn't have his usual spunk. It was partly the reason Dwyane Wade took over more, with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but having Butler around could have helped close a game that got away from them in a four-minute stretch where the Bulls lost their composure.

Wade has had to play through his share of injuries during his career, and although he wouldn't divulge whatever Butler was going through, it seemed as if they had a conversation about managing his body.

"We've talked about it. When you've had any limitations no matter what, at this time of year people are banged-up," Wade said. "It's expected. But we have to do a better job of putting him in different places on the basketball floor.

"I don't know exactly what he's going through or what he's feeling, but it's tough when you are, and you try to beat a guy from halfcourt to the rim, or three defenders. So we've got to a better job of finding areas for him to work without having to work so hard. That's on all of us."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Game 5 loss

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Game 5 loss

Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue analyze Game 5 between the Bulls and Celtics, how the Bulls can correct their mistakes for Friday night and whether Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade have enough left in the tank to win two straight against the top seed in the Eastern Conference.