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Noah Ejected, Deng Saves Shorthanded Bulls In OT

By Tim Bearden in News on Mar 25, 2012 3:30PM

If they were handing out the MVP last night, Luol Deng's name would most certainly have been in the mix following his buzzer beating shot to lift the Bulls over the Toronto Raptors 102-101 in overtime. This win gives the Bulls a league-leading 40 wins on the season.

Deng's buzzer beater came following a partially blocked jump shot taken by back-up point guard C.J. Watson, who started for the injured Derrick Rose, with only seconds left in OT. Watson had 23 points on the night and helped the Bulls rally from a seven point deficit late in the fourth quarter with a jumper, 3-pointer and two free-throws to tie the game at 86 against the 16-win Raptors.

Carlos Boozer contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds to give him a double-double on the evening along with Deng, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

But while Deng and Watson were the heroes of the night, every good story needs an anti-hero. Joakim Noah was able to oblige getting ejected with just under a minute and a half to play in the first half.

Noah got frustrated with a foul call while guarding Andrea Bargnani and argued with officials, who gave him technical foul number one on the evening. But Noah couldn't let it go and threw the ball in the direction of official Scott Foster, earning him his second technical foul and sending him to the locker room early.

It seems as though the Raptors bring out a prehistoric attitude and short temper in Noah, who was ejected the first time in 2009 after he punched a ball into the stands and hit an unsuspecting camera man. Noah's ejection could lead to a suspension and leaves the already shorthanded Bulls in a tough position entering the playoff stretch.

Coach Tom Thibodeau did not have many positive things to say following the overtime win due to Noah's ejection, but did not take issue with the foul call against his starting center. But who could blame him when the Bulls are already down two starters, Derrick Rose and the injury-prone Rip Hamilton, due to lingering injuries.

Hamilton has only played 16 games of 50 so far this season and Rose has now missed his sixth straight game with a groin injury. The Bulls did not fare well from the arc Saturday night, going 3-for-23, and were out rebounded 58-44, but Toronto's 20 turnovers seemed to be the nail-in-the-coffin for the Canadian team. The Bulls also only went 65 percent from the free-throw line, making 17 of 26, the Raptors shot 80 percent from the line.

With stats like that it's hard to believe the Bulls pulled it out, but that's the mentality of the Chicago team—win. And anyway you can.