NEW YORK Nine technical fouls, 50 personal fouls, a dominant Bulls performance, an improbable and ultimately failed Knicks comeback and Patrick Ewing at Madison Square Garden. Just a regular Friday night in Manhattan if it were 20 years ago.
Native New Yorker Joakim Noah never shies away from being a villain in any NBA arena outside of Chicago, so it wasnt exactly a shock when, with tensions rising, he was ejected after garnering his second technical of the evening following a pseudo-altercation with former Bulls center Tyson Chandler, his main competition for an inaugural All-Star Game bid. With 4:39 left in the contest, as the two centers were battling for a rebound, tempers flared Chandler was trying to go after Noah; Noah retaliated and both were tossed.
Things happen. But we won the basketball game and I wish that we wouldnt have got ejected. Two guys, just trying to go for a rebound and unfortunately, guys got ejected, Noah, in good spirits, said afterwards, before being asked by a reporter if he feared being suspended for the incident.
Suspension? For what? What did I do? He head-butted me, he said. Come on, guys. Im trying to play tomorrow. I love this game.
For Chandlers part, the affable big man didnt hold a grudge, telling reporters, I dont think he Noah is a dirty player at all. It was a frustration of the game and we got tangled up. That was that.
Noah now has a league-leading seven technicals on the season, something Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasnt pleased with, though he somewhat absolved the center later by also noting that starting with me, fourth-quarter technical, meaning that the former Knicks assistant was also a bit caught up in the moment.
They were tangled up. Jo played a great game. The thing is, you cant put it in the officials hands and we should have all recognized that. They had enough, they werent taking anybody talking to them. I think he was trying to make a point and he got thrown out, so that hurt us, said Thibodeau, who added that he didnt think Noah would be suspended. This year, he got healthy this summer and hes playing a complete game, and thats why its disappointing that he couldnt finish the game because hes a big part of the press break. We throw him the ball and hes a great free-throw shooter, and he has size to pass over the trap, so we missed him, but hes done a great job all year. Hes taken good care of himself, hes healthy and to me, hes playing at an extremely high level. Hes an elite player now.
As far his own technical, Thibodeau added: Well, he gave it to me, so apparently I did. But I thought we had a lot of things going against us. I tried to make a point and he didnt want to hear it.
Noahs fellow New Yorker, Taj Gibson, while he didnt play much due to an ankle injury, identified with his teammates feelings during the intense affair.
It was so much emotion, especially when we were going up. It felt like you were playing in a street tournament, the way the crowd really gets so into the game and talking to you, youre talking to them, he said. They know they game, like they know screen-and-rolls, they know missing box-outs. They were saying everything to you, so its a crazy feeling, but Im just happy we could get the win.