Joakim Noah climbed over the baseline seats, his foot that hurt so much two weeks ago that he feared he couldn’t play looking pain-free as he embraced his mother.
The 1st Game 7 in Brooklyn belonged not to the Nets, but to the guy who played here in high school.
”I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Noah said.
Injured, ill and just as determined as ever, the Bulls beat the Nets 99-93 to win the 1st-round series.
Noah had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli also scored 24 points to help the Chicago Bulls advance to a 2nd-round series against defending champion Miami Heat.
Carlos Boozer added 17 points as the Chicago Bulls shook off injuries to 2 starters and each run the Nets tried to make in the 2nd half to win a Game 7 on the road for the first time in franchise history.
”I’m just so happy with this team. We’ve been fighting through so much all year and to be in that circumstance, play on the biggest stage in the world and to be able to win and now play against the Miami Heat, all these experiences, I (don’t) take those for granted,” Noah said.
The Chicago Bulls opened a 17-point halftime lead with a rare offensive outburst, and found a way to get large baskets every time the Brooklyn Nets pulled close to win the NBA’s only do-or-die game of the 1st round.
”I thought our guys, we took a big punch in Game 1 and we kept fighting back and that’s been the story of the season,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau related.
Deron Williams had 24 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds for the Brooklyn Nets. They were trying to become the 9th NBA team to win a series after trailing 3-1. NFL lines
But they’d a horrendous 1st-half defensive performance and Joe Johnson was bad all game on offense, finishing with 6 points on 2-of-14 shooting, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
With Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) out again and Derrick Rose still not ready to return from last year’s torn ACL, the Chicago Bulls leaned on Noah, who could barely play when the Chicago Bulls were blown out here 2 weeks ago in Game One because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He logged 41 minutes and shot 12 of 17 while also blocking 6 shots.
”It’s disappointing. We won Game 6, we felt like this was our series, but they came out and played a great game,” Williams said. ”Noah, like I mentioned he’s a warrior. He battled through his injuries and just had a monster game. We really had no answers for him down low tonight.”
Noah helped the Chicago Bulls spoil the Nets’ first home Game 7 in their NBA history at the end of their 1st season in Brooklyn. They had played only one Game 7 in all their years while they were based in New Jersey, falling at Detroit in 2004.