Running with the Bulls: Turnovers plaguing Noah

Running with the Bulls: Turnovers plaguing Noah
April 26, 2014, 11:45 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

*There were topics discussed at the Chicago Bulls media availability on Saturday that did not involve Nene's suspension. Among them, Joakim Noah's offensive struggles through the first three games.

The 6-foot-11 Noah serves as Chicago's high post facilitator. He led all NBA centers in assists (5.4) and finished among the top 30 in the entire league while committing 2.4 turnovers per game. In this series, the assists are down (3.7) and the turnovers are up (4.0). In Game 3, Noah had four of Chicago's 16 turnovers.

"They're pressuring me a lot, a lot more than usual," Noah said of the Wizards' defense. "I have to do a better job of making sure I don't turn the ball over. They've been doing a good job at that and I think it's given them easy points in transition and things like that. I definitely have to do a better job of not turning the ball over."

Noah hasn't had more than four assists in any of the three games. Heading into the postseason, he averaged 8.6 assists.

Per NBA.com's Player Tracking, Noah is averaging 9.7 assist opportunities per game (John Wall is fourth among those in the postseason with 13.7). Those opportunities haven't led to actual assists, though Noah's coach likes what he's seen from his center.

"You got to take what the game gives you. I thought he had a lot of good quick decisions," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He didn't get a lot of assists for them, but I thought he got the ball moving for us. That was probably more important than anything else."

Asked about any concern over Noah's number of turnovers, the coach said, "Our teams, yeah. I thought we were very high yesterday. For him, he's going to handle the ball a lot. Would I like it to be less, yeah. But I also know that can happen. We want him to take care of [the ball], but we want the team to take care of it as well."

Of course, part of the reason Noah has struggled versus the Wizards is that a certain powerful 6-foot-11 forward who will not be playing in Game 4 often guards him. In Chicago's 96-78 win at Washington on April 5, Noah had 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists and one turnover. Nene sat that one out with injury.

*Noah was among those asked for comments regarding the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Noah: “I don’t know enough about the situation to pass judgment. I don’t know if it was him or what’s going on. It’s an unfortunate situation. It’s really sad that, you know, there are still people who think that way. Right now my focus is on this team, controlling what I can control.”

*Mike Dunleavy finished Game 3 with 35 points on eight 3-pointers. His stellar shooting performance helped lead Thibodeau to alter his fourth quarter rotation. The veteran forward played over eight minutes while point guard Kirk Hinrich received only five. Hinrich and reserve point guard D.J. Augustin, the Bulls scoring leader in Game 2, typically share the backcourt in fourth quarters.

"They're going to play. They have to play together," the coach said. You have to look at how D.J. is being guarded. You [might] need another ball handler out there. That's what we've done the entire season."

*As for general items to clean up for Sunday's game, Thibodeau said, "We have to finish our defense better. I think we got screen better. We got to keep the ball moving quickly."

*Noah, on whether the Bulls are equipped to handle the physical play that's been a part of the series: "I hope so. I'm just happy we won. These games are coming down to nothing at all. Just attention to detail. We're disappointed about losing the first two at home especially having leads in the fourth quarter. But Jimmy Butler, Dunleavy, a lot of guys stepped up yesterday in a really crucial moment. We're just happy we're in this position right now. With our back against the rope, to have an opportunity to tie this [series] tomorrow is huge.

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