All season long, the talk of NBA MVP has swayed in the direction of either the challenger Kevin Durant or the incumbent LeBron James. Both players have their respective teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, seated in position to make long playoff runs and perhaps meet in the NBA Finals. After today’s game, another player may join the conversation. He also knows Mr. James fairly well, and that player is Joakim Noah.
The colorful center put on a passing clinic, on his way to notching his fifth career triple double, powering the Chicago Bulls to a 109-90 win over the New York Knicks. With the win, the Bulls (33-26) earned their ninth win in the last 10 games and continue to ascend up the Eastern Conference standings. They momentarily sit alone in third place, just a shade about Toronto Raptors, who plays at home against Golden State Warriors later today.
Reserve point guard D.J. Augustin led seven players in double figures, as the blue collar gentlemen continue their remarkable workmanlike effort this season. Since trading Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls are 19-8 and are currently the hottest team in the league. Their willingness to share the basketball continues an offensive surge, as they averaged 103.3 ppg during their recent run.
However, defense continues to remain a staple for the Bulls, as they recorded nine steals and five blocks as a team while holding the Knicks to 5-of-18 from three point range.
The Knicks could’ve mailed it in early, as they trailed 16-1 less than halfway through the first quarter and 37-16 as the quarter ended. They fought back to trim the lead to nine with 3:32 left in the second on a jumper by Amar’e Stoudemire (14 points) but got no closer the rest of the way.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with a fairly quiet 21 points and center Tyson Chandler pulled down 22 rebounds to pace the Knicks. Chandler was visibly frustrated throughout much of the game and it continued all the way to the bench as he exited for the day. His team continues to free fall down the standings and play woefully on the road, with a record of 9-19 away from Madison Square Garden. Their latest mark of futility places them in the middle of a six-game losing streak, allowing 114.8 ppg.
After road games against the Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons, the Bulls will head back home to a six-game stay, showcased by games against Miami, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City. Perhaps those games could go a long way in building a stronger case for Noah as the MVP.