You knew going in to Thursday night’s nationally televised contest between the Bulls and the Sixers that it was going to be a rough one to watch. Thankfully, Joakim Noah gave us a performance worth seeing.
While the teams played a slower-tempo game that was low-scoring by design, Noah was seemingly everywhere, and posted a historic triple-double statistical line of 23 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots to lead Chicago to a 93-82 victory to snap the team’s two-game losing streak.
Noah joined some elite company with his performance. Since blocked shots began being recorded officially in the 1973-74 season, he became only the sixth player to score at least 20 points and grab at least 20 rebounds while blocking at least 10 shots. Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Bradley, and Elvin Hayes each did it once, while only Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it twice.
That’s rarified air to be sure, but Noah also staked claim to a level where he alone has been the only player to reach it in NBA history.
Noah is the first player to score more than 20 points and haul down more than 20 rebounds while shooting at least 65 percent from the field, according to Elias Sports (via ESPN Stats & Information).
Chicago was actually up by as many as 16 points in this one, before the Sixers closed the third on a 14-4 run to get the game back within a manageable distance.
The game was never truly in doubt for the Bulls in the fourth, however, because the Sixers simply couldn’t score enough to get themselves back into the game. The Bulls played excellent defense and controlled the boards in the final period, holding Philadelphia to just 8-23 shooting over the game’s final 12 minutes.
The Bulls and Sixers rank 25th and 27th respectively in terms of offensive efficiency, so this grind-it-out, low-scoring game was to be expected. Both teams shot just over 38 percent from the field, and while the defense could be described as scrappy on both sides, the lack of offensive execution was more of a factor in the low entertainment value than was a lockdown defensive effort from either of these teams.
Noah gave us a special performance, however, that made it all worth watching.