Joakim Noah Wins Player of the Night After Monster Defensive Effort vs. Magic

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2012

Nov 06, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) reacts after a play against the Orlando Magic during the second half at the United Center. The Chicago Bulls defeat the Orlando Magic 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Who needs Derrick Rose?

Well, the Chicago Bulls still do, but they're playing sufficient basketball without him. Especially against the Orlando Magic, and especially Joakim Noah.

On a night where Arron Afflalo dropped 28 points for the Magic, Greg Monroe pitched in 27 points for the Detroit Pistons and teammate Luol Deng exploded for 23 points himself, Noah stole the show.

And I mean really stole the show, like the "Bulls wouldn't have won without his performance" stole the show.

Stat Line: 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists and five blocks on 53.8 percent shooting.

Noah has been getting it done for the Rose-less Bulls all season, and nothing changed against the Magic.

The now-undeniably elite big man dominated on both ends of the floor Tuesday night, holding a block party that ultimately allowed Chicago to escape with a victory.

More impressive than his five blocks, though, was his offensive performance. Not only was he efficient from the field, but he exuded plenty of confidence—the same confidence he has played with all season. And the same confidence that has allowed him to lead the Bulls in scoring through the first four games.

Simply put, Noah has done and continues to do it all. He's leading Chicago in rebounds and blocks per contest in addition to his point totals, and is on pace to have a career year in almost every statistical category.

Who's one dimensional now?

Not Noah.

On a night where Chicago appeared ready to keel over, a night where the Bulls were forced to overcome a slight fourth quarter deficit, Noah refused to succumb to defeat.

When he wasn't protecting the rim, he was busy grabbing three offensive rebounds or putting on a low-post display that proved his offensive transformation was complete. 

And he did so while logging 41 minutes on an ankle many believed wouldn't hold up to the rigors of an NBA season.

But he proved his doubters wrong and continues to prove them wrong as he helps Chicago establish an identity outside of Rose.

Sure, Deng exploded in a way all his own, but he has been wildly inconsistent in the early going, as has Carlos Boozer. Which has left Noah to pick up the slack—on both ends of the floor—a burden he has proved to be more than capable of shouldering and one that he has even embraced.

Yes, the Bulls came up with the win here, but this victory was because of Noah—it belonged to Noah.

Because he's ready. 

We caught a glimpse of this Noah in his limited postseason action last year, yet now we have the pleasure relishing in the player he has become without the impediment that was once his ankle or limited offensive repertoire.

"Coach said to do whatever it takes to get the win," Chicago's Robinson said (via Kent McDill of after the game.

Well, Noah did.

And the Bulls won.