Bulls reach for the crutches | Bleader

Bulls reach for the crutches

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Joakim Noah: The Bulls appear helpless without him and Derrick Rose.
And so, for the second time in a week, we look to the Bulls' website expecting the worst.

The latest from their blogger Sam Smith isn't encouraging, however. Joakim Noah reportedly left the arena Friday night in Philadelphia on crutches after suffering a gruesome ankle sprain in the second half of what turned out to be their 79-74 loss to the 76ers in the pivotal third game of their opening-round NBA playoff series.

The Sun-Times put the photo on the front page of its website and tagged it to its game story here. But don't look too long. And it's probably best to wait until after breakfast—or brunch, or lunch, or dinner, or until you've had enough Derby Day mint juleps so you just don't care anymore.

Noah rolled the ankle when the Sixers' Andre Igudala stepped in front of him on a fast break. He stayed in the game to make the free throws to give the Bulls a 47-42 third-quarter lead, but soon left to receive treatment in the locker room. He returned in the fourth quarter to hit an outside jumper to give the Bulls' a 69-55 advantage, but soon after that he clearly couldn't go and left the game hobbling. Without him, and without Derrick Rose, who blew out his knee in the waning moments of the first game and their sole win a week ago, the Bulls were helpless, and the Sixers ran them down.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said all the right things about the Bulls toughing it out without them, but it's hard to see how the Bulls—even as the top-seeded team in the league—could prevail in the best-of-seven series without their best offensive player and best interior defender.

This is the way the season ends—with a bang and a whimper.

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