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Tough week? Who says it was a tough week for these Bulls? No stinkin’ tough week for these Bulls and Joakim Noah in a performance Saturday worth its weight in gold.
The heck week concluded with a 94-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings. And this is what Joakim Noah, after 23 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and three steals, did in a heck of a 3-1 week against the Heat, Spurs, Rockets and Kings.
Noah against the Heat and LeBron James and then playing Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins averaged 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists, three blocks and 1.3 steals, and you are running out of reasons not to consider Noah a legitimate top five MVP contender and one of the most impactful players in the NBA.
The last Bulls player of the week award winner was more than a year ago. It would be difficult to understand how Noah could not win for last week.
“He is one unique guy,” agreed Iron Mike Dunleavy, who had 16 points after becoming an honorary Blackhawk with a jersey presentation from the Stanley Cup champions for his 10 stitches and then 18 point third quarter Thursday, “He is a hell of a player. I would hate to think of where we would be without him. He really does it all for us. He brings it every night. He’s an inspiring teammate. When you pass it to him and you cut you’re always going to have your eyes open because that ball will end up finding you some how, some way. Tonight we missed a lot of easy ones for him or else he would have had 15 or 16 assists.”
It’s not hyperbole as you could count a half dozen times Bulls players fumbled on line Noah passes at the rim. Still, the Bulls had enough with a 30-point fourth quarter led by Dunleavy and Taj Gibson to move to 37-29 and be in position to do something no one thought remotely possible two and three months ago.
It’s still a long shot, but without their two leading scorers in Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the Bulls still have a chance to reach 50 wins in a season that a few months ago was viewed as a Sherman tank of a throwaway. Yes, it would take a 13-3 finish with Oklahoma City Monday on St. Patrick’s Day and the Pacers twice more times this month…