|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2012||[Print without images]|
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah shot free throws without a brace on his sprained left ankle at shootaround but was out for Game 5 Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers after being a game-time decision.
Omer Asik started. The Bulls are down 3-1 in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the eighth-seed 76ers and could be eliminated Tuesday night.
Noah sprained his ankle badly in Game 3 Friday night after stepping on the foot of 76ers guard Andre Iguodala midway through the third quarter.
Coach Tom Thibodeau took Noah out of the game, but decided to send him back in the fourth after he was cleared by Bulls athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi.Noah hit a jumper after being re-inserted, but he was limping noticeably and was then taken out of the game for good. X-rays taken immediately after the game were negative, but Noah left the arena on crutches, his foot in an air cast. He has not spoken to reporters since the injury.
Noah is the second Bulls starter to go down this postseason, the other being Derrick Rose, who tore the ACL in his left knee at the end of Game 1.
"Derrick and Jo are two of the guys that get the ball and we go out and run (with them)," Kyle Korver said. "Jo gets the ball and he goes out and runs."Derrick obviously with his speed ... and we're not getting fast-break points. We're not getting into our sets very quickly, so we're having to take a lot tougher shots and (Philadelphia's) defense is set, and they have a good defense, they really do.
"So I think that's where we miss them. We miss them in a lot of ways, but I think we miss them a lot in our ability to run. We got a deep team, we've got a lot of bodies. One of our strengths all year has been getting out and running, and we haven't been able to do that this series."