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CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah wanted to make it clear what he believes will happen when his beleaguered Chicago Bulls face off against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 on Saturday night.
"We're a team of fighters," Noah said after the Bulls' 95-92 loss in Game 6 on Thursday night. "We keep getting punched in the face but we fight back. I'm proud of this team, and we're going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we're going to win."
Noah spoke optimistically about his team's chances, but the reality for the Bulls is that they still are not sure who will even be able to play Saturday night. Kirk Hinrich (bruised calf) and Luol Deng (flu) missed Thursday's game. Nate Robinson scored 18 points but vomited several times during the game on the sidelines. Taj Gibson scored just three points in 17 minutes as he battled through flu-like symptoms, and Derrick Rose remains out as he works his way back from ACL surgery.
Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo expressed confidence that his team could take down the Bulls.
"I've got a ton of confidence in these guys," he said. "They've been resilient all year. They've stepped up many, many times when people didn't think we could step up. We've played well on the road. We've beaten a lot of the better teams in the league, and the reward for the way we played in the regular season is that Game 7 of the first round is in our building. So, I'm just very confident our guys are going to take advantage of the opportunity and continue to do what they've done all year."
The Bulls have every reason to be down, but they remain confident they can still find a way to win and advance to a second-round series, where the Miami Heat await.
"We just got to play through it," Robinson said. "Regardless of being sick or not, our guys, we all play our asses off. We got to continue to do that."
Robinson was even able to make a joke about his illness after Game 6 was over.
"There was a couple times I had to throw up during the game," Robinson said. "But I didn't know if they were going to call a foul on me if I threw up on Deron Williams and played through it. But I don't know; we got to check the rulebook on that one."
The Bulls believe, despite all the injury woes, they can find a way to grind out Game 7.
"[Our confidence is] going up," Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said. "It's sure not going to go down. They know they got to win Game 7; we know we got to win Game 7. Same style of basketball; it's going to be a fight. The tougher team is going to get the win, and we go in wanting to be the tougher team."
That fighting spirit permeated the locker room.
"We just got to go there, put our boxing gloves back on and tell everybody, 'Be ready to play,'" Gibson said. "It's no time to be hurt, sick; it could be the end of the season. So we have to go out there, just put forth a lot of effort. There's no time to worry about small things; we got to just push the limit."
Noah won't have any problem doing that.
"I'm ready to play," he said. "I want to go play right now. Those are my emotions."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo was used in this report.