A new coach and a new year brought out the best in rookie Joakim Noah.
With the Bulls facing the Bobcats the day after New Year's, Noah provided the spark coach Jim Boylan and his teammates needed. In 18 minutes, Noah had 17 points, six rebounds and four assists in helping Chicago beat Charlotte 109-97. The victory was part of a 4-2 start for Boylan, with whom the Bulls have averaged 104.1 points compared to 91.5 in 26 games under former coach Scott Skiles.
"Having young legs, that's something I always try to provide, and that's energy," Noah said. "That's one of my strengths."
It also didn't hurt that teammate Ben Gordon ribbed him before the game.
"I was getting on him earlier, telling him that he can't dunk and I would never throw him a lob," Gordon told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He came tonight and played with a lot of energy. He had some strong finishes at the rim and he did a good job defensively.
"He's coming along and we really need that kind of play from him."
Of course, Noah followed that performance with two scoreless games, denying him any chance to join this week's top 10 (he'll have to settle for recognition in the "honorable mention" category). Ah, the life of a rookie spark plug.
(Send comments, complaints or hype for your favorite rookie to Drew Packham at firstname.lastname@example.org.)