Welcome To Noah Gate Where 3.6 Seconds Means Alot

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIApril 10, 2010

CHICAGO - MARCH 30: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls shoots over Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns at the United Center on March 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns defeated the Bulls 111-105. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Where was Joakim Noah during the last 3.6 seconds of regulation last night as Brook Lopez's dunk sent the game into overtime?

I know I was wondering why when I saw Noah clearly seen on the bench as no one put a body of Lopez as he dunked the ball leaving .1 seconds left on the clock.

Had he fouled out?

Was he too hurt to play?

Had he reached the limit to his allowed playing time?

The answers to those question are no, no and YES.

The reason Noah the best defensive big man on the team wasn't in the game with it on the line was because he is allowed to play 35 minutes per game. Vs New Jersey he played 35 minutes and 51 seconds, only 12 seconds during overtime.

Really I must have heard this wrong right? Nope it has been confirmed but really would have a couple extra seconds have really hurt him. Could 3.6 seconds with the game on the line have been too much for the best defensive player on the team?

And no one better tell me the team wasn't scoreboard watching knowing that Atlanta had beaten the Raptors. If the Bulls win they would have had a game lead in the race for the 8th and final playoff spot going into the game Sunday in Toronto.

Ok, fine Noah couldn't play, Bulls end up losing in double overtime after having a seven point lead in the first overtime or so you think. The real fun came after the game ended.

Thanks to Nick Friedell of ESPNchicago.com for these great quotes and info from VDN and Gar Foreman.

During the 4th quarter Vinny sent former player and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter to go ask GM Gar Foreman if Noah could surpass the 35 minute limit.  Gar then called executive vice president John Paxson who said it would be a-Ok. So Gar told Hunter to pass the message along. According to Vinny he didn't receive the green light till after overtime had started which is why Noah was not in at the end of regulation.

Really? You know how a good franchise with a coach they trust on the bench would have handled this? Coach turns to player asks, you good? and the player would either enter the game or take a seat on the bench.

IT WAS 3.6 SECONDS!!!!!!!

Ok so what did Vinny have to say about all this on Saturday:

"I didn't get that answer until the overtime," . "Once I got it, we're into the overtime, and my interpretation of that was not to go play him 3, 4, 5, 6,10 minutes and get him into 40 to 45 minutes. But when we needed him for a stop, and when we did, that's when I put him back in. I would have loved to have played him some more minutes, especially in the overtime. But that was the understanding, and there was probably a little miscommunication there as well. Would I have liked to play him more? Of course. But his future and his health is the most important thing. When you're under ... there's been a lot of things that have gone into this. I would have liked to have played him more, but we just couldn't do that [Friday] night."

"I wanted to put him in if there was 10 seconds to go, or the 3.6 seconds, but I hadn't got the authority yet to do that, and I wasn't able to play him extended minutes because of the 35 [minute] mandate. So there was some miscommunication there a little bit. Then when I got the OK to put him back in, I put him back -- I think it was the first overtime, to try and get that stop, and I think we fouled Brook Lopez on it. I wasn't going to play him 40, 45 minutes, or something like that, just because it was back to back games and Joakim's future and his health and everything is a big concern to everyone. It's the first time he's played back to back like that with those many minutes."

Are you serious? How can you have a coach this handcuffed? It was 3.6 seconds.

Noah of course took the high road: "I don't want to say anything that puts anybody in a bad position. For me, it's frustrating. Of course I want to be out there on the court ... I really don't know what to say about [Friday]. As a player, I'm just trying to focus on a huge game [Sunday] against Toronto. The goal is to make the playoffs. I'm just trying to focus on that and be as positive as I can."

Vinny said after practice that he believes that there will be no limit on Noah's playing time Sunday. I'm starting to wonder who has their arm up the back of Vinny's coat making him talk.

So where does this leave the Bulls in their push for the playoffs. With 3 games left vs Toronto, Boston and Charlotte, only the Celtic game at home, tied with the Raptors who even without Bosh have very winnable games against the Bulls, Pistons and Knicks. The schedule alone makes Sunday's game all that more important since the Raptors hold the tiebreaker.

I think the East should just take 7 teams give Lebron & Co. a bye cause it's going to be an ugly 4 games no matter who "wins" the 8th spot.

If you missed the play check it out at the home of Da Chicago Fan