Joakim Noah’s second triple-double of his career came at a great time. The Bulls were disappointed after dropping their Monday night game to the Memphis Grizzlies and were determined to get things back on the right track.
The game against the Celtics provided a test for the Bulls, one in which they passed with flying colors as Noah made an even stronger case for being named an All-Star this season by putting his versatility on display in a big game, and being a catalyst for the Bulls offense.
“I always tell everybody I’m a ‘point center’ anyway, but I always feel like I can pass the ball and I feel more comfortable with the offense,” said Noah of his 10 assists on Tuesday night. “We have a lot of people who can score the ball in different ways. Lu’s a great cutter, Carlos catches almost any pass — I can throw it almost anywhere, he’ll catch it — so just everybody.”
“He’s probably the best passing big man in the league,” said Carlos Boozer of Noah’s passing ability. “He’s underrated. He plays hard. He has great court vision. Honestly, he’s like a point forward for us because we run a lot of plays through him … He’ll have a lot more games like that in this system because a lot of our stuff goes through Jo. Especially with D. Rose out.”
This season, Noah is leading all NBA centers in assists at 4.5 per game and is second on the Bulls in that category behind Kirk Hinrich. His ability to hit cutters going to the basket from the high post is second to none and from watching the Bulls, it’s fairly easy to see that he is the quarterback of the team’s offense right now.
“Every time I see him at the top of the key or anywhere dribbling the ball, I’m always ready to shoot and he always finds me,” Taj Gibson said. “He’s really New York when you look at him, the way he dribbles the ball. Before practice, he dribbles with a heavy ball to get his handles right and when he dribbles the ball, he’s so fluid, and he just looks for players.”
For Noah, while he appreciates the praise from his teammates and coaches, he just wants to win and do whatever he can on the court to make sure the Bulls do just that.
“It feels great to play well and to win. Everybody’s happy right now. I feel like we’re getting so much better as a team and even against the elite teams in the NBA, we’re competing against everybody and we have some tough games coming up.”
Those “tough games” include a rematch with the Eastern Conference leading New York Knicks on the road on Friday, followed up by a game against the team one slot ahead of the Bulls in the Eastern standings, the Atlanta Hawks, on Saturday night.
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