“If I get kicked out and Nazr Mohammed gets kicked out at the same time, who wins?”
LeBron is obviously right. If both players had been ejected, that would have played into the Bulls’ favor.
But only Mohammed was ejected, and that hurt Chicago, which was forced to adjust its rotation without its backup center.
Joakim Noah averaged 35:31 of playing time in the series’ first two games. With Mohammed gone for most of Game 3, Noah played 42:22 last night – an extra 6:51.
That might just be too much for him.
In Noah’s final 6:51 of play, the Bulls were outscored by 12 points in what ended as a 10-point loss.
In that span Noah committed four fouls, and though one was intentional late, the other three came from poor, sloppy decisions to pursue rebounds that were already going to the Heat. Noah also grabbed only one rebound in that time and seemed a half step slow to hit the right spots defensively.
By no means was Noah bad – he made both his shots – but he wasn’t at quite the level he’d been earlier in the series.
The Bulls have been slightly better both offensively and defensively in this series with Mohammed on the court. He played just 11:26 per game in the first two contests, but those backup minutes were enough to rest Noah.
A few extra minutes from Mohammed and a little more rest for Noah probably wouldn’t have given the Bulls a win last night. But it might have.