- For the first time since the 1997-98 season, the Bulls have a player selected to the NBA All-Defensive first team. Center Joakim Noah was named to the team, which had six players on it because he and Tyson Chandler tied for the center position. The last Bulls to be so honored were Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan in the 1997-98 season. “Joakim has a very good chance (some day) to be Defensive Player of the Year,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “His ability to defend all five positions, every aspect of the game, individual defense, team defense, rebounding, multiple effort. A very good player.” Miami’s LeBron James was named to the first team (which is voted on by coaches) along with Memphis guard Tony Allen, Serge Ibaka of Oklahoma City and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. For the second straight year, the Defensive Player of the Year (voted on by the media) did not make the first team, as Memphis center Marc Gasol was named to the second team.
- The Bulls organization apparently has fully accepted the team’s current situation as a wounded warrior. Every seat in the United Center Monday had a small poster sitting on it, and the poster read “Next Man Up’’, which corresponds with Thibodeau’s attitude about injured players. “Throughout the course of the season, we lost guys along the way, and the next man up has to get the job done, “Thibodeau said Monday. “It is important that we have a team that has good character. We fought adversity all year and have responded to every challenge we have faced.”
- The two full days off in between games allowed the media to focus on the play of Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who is averaging just 13 points in the three conference semifinal games. He is shooting just 46 percent from the field. Wade did not go into details about the status of his right knee injury (“it is what it is,’’ he said), which affected him throughout the season. But Wade’s lower numbers have been made up by the play of Norris Cole, who is averaging 14.3 points per game, second on the team, and shooting 80 percent from the field.
- Although Thibodeau was fined $35,000 for his post-game comments Friday concerning the referees, the Bulls were pleased backup center Nazr Mohammed received no penalty or suspension for his push of LeBron James in the game. Mohammed was ejected from the game because of the contact.
- Luol Deng is listed as active for Game 4, while Kirk Hinrich is ruled as out.
– Kent McDill