Late-season run propels Bulls into NBA playoffs Durant claims scoring title
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Joakim Noah came through the tunnel, made a left turn toward the locker room and yelled for everyone to hear.
"Let's shock the world!" he screamed.
It would indeed require a monumental upset for Chicago to advance in the playoffs, but the Bulls overcame numerous obstacles to get the chance.
Derrick Rose scored 27 points and Noah added 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 98-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats last night that gave Chicago the NBA's last unclaimed playoff spot.
Despite the injuries, internal strife, trades and a horrible stretch early in the season, the Bulls closed the regular season with a three-game winning streak to beat out Toronto by one game for the right to face Eastern Conference top seed Cleveland.
"You know what I love about this team?" Noah said. "I feel that even when times were hard, we went on a 10-game losing streak, I feel like we never let down. We always believed in each other. To be in this position right now is a great feeling, and I feel it's really deserving."
Needing a win or a Raptors loss to New York to get in, the Bulls quickly took it to the Bobcats, who were already locked into the seventh seed in the East and a first-round matchup with Orlando.
Chicago never trailed and led by as many as 18 points in clinching its second straight playoff berth and fifth in six years. It even led to a postgame locker room visit from former Bulls star and current Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.
There wasn't much for Jordan to see from his courtside seat of his Bobcats, who couldn't match Chicago's intensity.
Chicago led 8-0 and 19-6. After the Bobcats got within 65-60 on Boris Diaw's hoop with 4:35 left in the third quarter, Rose scored Chicago's next eight points and the Bobcats didn't threaten thereafter.
Taj Gibson added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago, which sent Charlotte to only its 10th home loss.
"I'm very proud of the way the guys have hung together all year, through a lot of things, and just gutted it out," coach Vinny Del Negro said.