Chicago shreds Brooklyn Nets in do-or-die Game 7
NEW YORK (AFP) – Joakim Noah scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds Saturday to lead the injury-ravaged Chicago Bulls to a 99-93 victory over the Brooklyn Nets and into the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Facing a do-or-die seventh game, Noah asserted himself in every facet of the contest connecting on 12-of-17 shots from the field and also blocking six shots.
The victory in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series earned the Bulls a second-round clash with reigning NBA champions Miami.
Chicago were without forward Luol Deng, their regular-season scoring leader who spent part of Saturday in hospital in Chicago.
Britain’s Deng had missed game six – which the Bulls lost in Chicago – when he came down with flu-like symptoms, then developed complications from a spinal tap that he underwent to rule out a possible case of meningitis.
Chicago, which played all season without star Derrick Rose who underwent rehabilitation from a torn knee ligament, was also without guard Kirk Hinrich, still nursing a calf injury.
But the Bulls showed a sense of urgency that the Nets couldn’t match.
Noah scored 16 points in the first half, leading three Chicago players who scored in double figures en route to a 61-44 halftime lead.
Noah also pulled down five offensive rebounds in the first half, his energy setting a tone for the Bulls.
‘’He gets us established,’’ said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. ‘’He does a lot of things offensively with his passing and getting to the offensive boards, and then he anchors our defense.’’