Noah plays with heavy heart in win

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
11:35
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah has always been praised for playing with heart throughout his career. That's why fans will have to excuse him if he looked a little off Tuesday night. His heart was understandably still hurting.

Noah, who missed the last three days of practice, was playing with heavy emotions considering he was away from the team as he grieved the loss of his paternal grandmother.

[+] EnlargeJoakim Noah
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireJoakim Noah had 10 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's preseason opener.
"It feels good to be back on the court," a somber Noah said after the game. "I had a really long week last week. It was very hard losing my grandmother. She's the one who introduced me to the sport of basketball. She was the first basketball player in my family. She played on the Cameroon national team. She was the secretary. She did everything for the team. So even playing for that national team, for France, it's all for her. It was very, very hard, but I'm happy to be back and playing basketball."

As far as the basketball part goes, he looked understandably rusty but still scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes in a 92-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

"I think there was some good moments and some bad moments," Noah said. "We just have to keep working, we've got a lot of new guys. Overall, we'll take a win but right now it's just about getting ready and being the best we can be."

Nazr feels right at home: Veteran center Nazr Mohammed made his homecoming a good one, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. For the man who has spent almost half his life in the NBA, being able to play in Chicago felt great.

"It's a great feeling, man," Mohammed said. "It's something about when you wake up and everything around you is, you feel comfortable, you've been there before. Just the setting; you go to a restaurant, or you go out and you walk around and you see somebody you actually know. It's just different from being in another city. I'm fortunate to be at home playing, but I want to play well and I want to win games."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
22.0 3.3 1.5 40.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.4
AssistsD. Rose 4.8
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1