- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA -- The Chicago Bulls didn't tank games earlier in the season when they lost Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and traded Luol Deng to Cleveland, so they aren't going to do so now even if it means a better matchup in the playoffs. Bulls center Joakim Noah made that clear after the his team's 105-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
"We're just trying to play good basketball," Noah said. "There's no way in hell we're going to try and lose games to match up against anybody. I think whatever happens, happens, so we're just going to keep playing our game, keep winning as much as we can, and then (we) can't wait for the playoffs."
The Bulls have just seven regular season games remaining and would finish as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference if the season ended today. They are tied with the Toronto Raptors in the standings, but would lose the tiebreaker by virtue of the fact that the Raptors would win the Atlantic divison. The two team's split the season series. As of now, the Bulls would face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, as a possible date with the Miami Heat lingers in the second round. Noah isn't worried about all of that.
"I think losing games to try to play somebody, I think that's soft," Noah said. "That's soft. We're not soft."
Noah's comments shouldn't come as a surprise given how outspoken he was when it came to the notion of tanking games earlier in the year. When asked in January what he would say to fans who thought the Bulls should lose games on purpose to give themselves a better chance in the draft lottery, Noah made his feelings known.
"What do I say to those fans?" Noah told ESPNChicago.com after the Bulls' 128-125 triple-overtime victory Wednesday over the Orlando Magic. "I don't say nothing to those fans. It's all good. You're allowed to have your opinion. It's just ... that's not a real fan to me. You know what I'm saying? You want your team to lose? What is that? But it's all good."
4hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
4mMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins