The Chicago Bulls could be without Joakim Noah for an extended period, after the high-energy center left Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards with a sprained right ankle.
Noah was seen leaving the United Center wearing a walking boot, though the team didn’t yet know how long the injury could keep him out. The Chicago Bulls take on the Boston Celtics on Friday, and Bulls guard Derrick Rose said losing Noah could be a tough blow.
“It’s going to be huge when you lose a player like Jo with his energy and just his size,” Rose said. “Because we’re a big team and we got a lot of big guys, but losing a seven footer on any team, a starting seven footer, I think it would hurt any team.”
Pau Gasol said Noah’s injury is already affecting the team. The Bulls gave up 61 points in the second half on Wednesday with the defensive-minded Noah in the locker room.
“Obviously it was a factor,” Gasol said. “We were up when he was in there and we were down when he wasn’t. Jo does a lot of things for us defensively. His activity and his length are important for us. That’s unfortunate that he got hurt and wasn’t able to play.”
Joakim Noah had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May, and has had difficulty returning to his Defensive Player of the Year form. He is averaging just 7.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, both below his career averages.
Noah also missed four games earlier this year with ankle and knee injuries, spraining the same ankle on back-to-back nights in December. The injury comes at a difficult time for the Bulls, who have dropped four of their last five. The team is entering a key stretch, with nine games in a 14-day period to end January.
“It is basketball. You can’t play this sport and be perfect,” Rose said. “We’re just going through a little bit of adversity right now. But it seems like guys are trying their hardest and it’s just not going our way right now.”
The Chicago Bulls will know more about Joakim Noah’s injury after an examination on Thursday.