First-year all-star Joakim Noah was a man possessed in this game, putting the team on his back and refusing to allow his Bulls to drop a game to the struggling Sixers as Chicago pulled out a 93-82 victory. Since 1985, there have been five games with a recorded line of 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocks: two by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, one each by rapping genie Shaquille O’Neal and former Sixers legend Shawn Bradley, and now one by Joakim Noah. The Florida alumnus finished with 23 points, 21 rebounds (including 8 offensive), and 11 blocks, and led both teams with screams into the United Center rafters. All of his yelling and histrionics may be extremely annoying to a fan of the opposing team, but you have to admire his energy and passion for the game. If Sixers’ players showed half of his intensity, we as fans would be talking possible playoff matchups.
However, I’ll say this for the Sixers, the effort was there in this one. Philadelphia did a good job shutting down Luol Deng, who had killed the Sixers in their previous meetings, holding him to 12 points on 5-14 shooting. Then, after falling behind by as many as 16 in the second half, Philadelphia fought back to make a close game of it before a Chicago run midway through the fourth put the game away. After the Sixers cut the deficit to four at 75-71, there was a three-minute stretch where Noah tallied 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks and the Chicago lead was back to twelve at 83-71. Ultimately, Noah was too much for the Sixers in their quest to earn a tough road victory.
For Philadelphia, Jrue Holiday got back to his scoring ways with 22 points on 10-19 shooting, though he only dished out 3 assists against 4 turnovers. Holiday needs to get back to playing a complete floor game, both setting up teammates and converting at the rim, if the Sixers are going to return to the W column. Hawes also played with energy on the offensive end with 20 points and 15 rebounds (5 offensive). But again, Hawes was guarding Noah, who put up a stat line that only 3 other players have compiled over the last 28 years, so how well could Spencer have really played? Besides Noah, Carlos Boozer had a double-double for Chicago with 21 points and 12 rebounds, handily winning his match-up with Thad Young and completing the Chicago front court domination.
The loss is the seventh straight for the Sixers who will next take on Golden State at home Saturday night. The Warriors will be on the back-end of a road back-to-back following their game against the Celtics; hopefully, tired legs will benefit Philadelphia. After the incredible Steph Curry performance at the Garden Wednesday night, it will be interesting to see what he does the rest of the week.