Why did Joakim Noah foul Nick Young on a three-pointer with a three-point lead? Noah: ‘You’ve got to learn from your mistakes’
Though Bulls center Joakim Noah played another outstanding game — 17 points, 21 rebounds, six assists — he committed a cardinal sin when he fouled the Lakers’ Nick Young on a three-pointer with 4.1 seconds left in regulation and the Bulls leading 93-90 on Monday night at the United Center.
Young hit all three free throws and Noah missed a running left-handed hook shot to send the game into overtime. The Bulls won, 102-100 on Taj Gibson’s layup as time expired. But not even Noah was willing to let his error go just because the Bulls won the game.
‘‘Well, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes,’’ Noah said when told ‘‘it doesn’t matter now.’’ ‘‘It was a mistake and I’m just happy we won.’’
With the Lakers inbounding with seven seconds to play after Noah hit one-of-two free throws for a 93-90 lead, the Bulls first wanted to deny the dangerous Young (31 points, 3-of-6 three-pointers) the ball. And if he did get the ball, they wanted to foul him before he could shoot, so he would be shooting two free throws. But once Young caught the ball in a shooting position, Noah played it straight and went up to contest the shot and was called for the foul.
It’s arguable that half the time he makes that play, no foul is called — perhaps even fewer than half the time. ‘‘I can’t even talk about that, because it can be a fine,’’ Noah said. ‘‘I’m just happy we won.’’
Still, it was clear Noah disputed the call. ‘‘I never think I fouled,’’ he said.
He said he contemplated ‘‘wrapping up’’ Young for a two-shot foul. ‘‘I did [think about doing that], but I didn’t and I should have,’’ he said.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau acknowledged the Bulls could have executed that defensive play better. But he said it’s always tricky because a player like Young can make it look like a shooting foul even when it might not be. ‘‘You don’t want to put it in the referee’s hands. And that’s something we’ve got to work on. We’ll be better at it,’’ Thibodeau said.
‘‘It’s a tough play, particularly with Young. Young is very clever. He gets fouled on a lot of his threes. He generates contact. He throws his arm up. He kicks his leg out. [So] you’ve got a guy like Young, who knows how to get his shot, it’s a tough play to officiate.You have to concentrate on your body position. Preferably you can keep the ball away from him. But if he catches, you have to have great body balance and position.
‘‘Obviously you can’t foul or appear to foul, because a lot of times, it appears that a foul, but it’s not. It’s tough. And it’s interesting because we all sit there and we watch the play and we think it may be something and then all of the sudden you watch it when you’re replaying the film and it takes you four or five or six times before you feel like you have a good handle on it. These guys [the officials] are doing it right there [in real time]. That’s not an easy job.’’