As the Chicago Bulls fought their way back then fell off last night, Joakim Noah was not on the court. Coach Tom Thibodeau held Noah out of the game as toward the end of the Bulls loss to the Memphis Grizzlies for reasons unknown.
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com points out Noah's extended absence and the cloud of mystery surrounding that absence. Noah has been one of the best players on the court for the Bulls all season, and for him not to be playing when the team seemingly needed him the most was strange.
As far as anyone knows, Noah was not injured. He simply was not in the game. Coach Thibodeau said after the game:
“That’s just a coaching decision."The Bulls ultimately lost the game, but the questions about Noah's time on the bench remain. It could have been as simple as a coaching decision as Thobodeau says, but he's a better coach than that. It could have been disciplinary action if Noah did something wrong. Or it could have been injury-related. We may never know, but as long as Noah gets back on the court and continues to help the Bulls, fans probably won't care.
Noah is averaging 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season. He has stepped up big time as the Bulls have tried to overcome Derrick Rose's absence. Despite his solid play, Noah was not named to the Eastern Conference's starting lineup for the upcoming All-Star Game.