Former Brooklynite Joakim Noah burns Nets

Reggie Evans gets his shot blocked by Chicago

Reggie Evans gets his shot blocked by Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah in the first quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. (April 22, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

Local people sure know their basketball in Brooklyn. One young man who played high school ball in the borough not all that long ago appreciated Monday night's playoff game so much that he was letting out high-pitched yells and clapping in the corridor on his way out.

Of course, he had as much to appreciate as anyone. Joakim Noah, formerly of Poly Prep, had just taken over the game on the force of his own willpower and with whatever strength he had in one really sore foot. The Bulls' big man, who used to live near here, played at Barclays Center as if he owned the place.

"Being able to play in the playoffs is something I'll never take for granted. Being able to do it in front of my loved ones, my family, is something that's really special to me,'' Noah said after making many big plays that sealed the Bulls' 90-82 win over the Nets in Game 2, tying the series.

The Bulls certainly don't take him for granted, especially given that there was a big question as to whether he could play at all in this series because his plantar fasciitis had been bothering him so much. He played some Saturday, but not great. He extended it to 25 minutes Monday night and found time to score 11 points and grab 10 rebounds.

Noah made an impressive block against Brook Lopez down the stretch and kept making big shots and getting important rebounds when the Bulls really needed them.

"He's giving us all he has,'' coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's 'willing' it is what he's doing -- to his credit.''

What else would you expect from a New Yorker? He lived here as a child, to escape the glare on his father, tennis star Yannick Noah, in his home country of France. Patrick Ewing, a family friend, once gave him a miniature basketball. After his parents split, Joakim moved to New York for good.

Those loved ones had a lot to cheer Monday night.

"I think overall, our team played passionate basketball tonight. That's a plus because it was ugly in Game 1,'' he said of the Nets' 106-89 romp. "I really wasn't thinking too much. I was just hooping, trying to make plays.

"I was just trying to find a way. I'm just happy my foot is holding up,'' said Noah, who seemed more energized at the end of the game than he was at the beginning. He was the one cheering loudest on the way out.

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