CHICAGO – Like his unorthodox jumper, there’s something indescribable about Joakim Noah.
And it was on full display Wednesday at the United Center, where the Bulls opened with a 93-87 win over the Kings.
The spirited center had 23 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high five steals and three blocks.
Noah’s energy led a rocky offensive effort. The Bulls scored 25 points off 21 Kings’ turnovers, but shot just 41.8 percent.
Luol Deng, who shot 3-for-13, saved a Richard Hamilton miss and got rewarded with a dunk off a Carlos Boozer feed for a seven-point lead with 4 minutes, 6 seconds remaining.
Boozer, who finished with 18 points, then followed with a three-point play off Noah’s miss with 2:46 remaining.
“This team has character,” Noah said. “We all play for the right reasons. We’re a team that has gone through a lot of adversity with our best player being hurt being the major one. Derrick [Rose] will be back. But right now, it’s on us.”
Deng split two free throws with 35.6 seconds left for a four-point lead and the Bulls forced the Kings, who shot just 40.5 percent, into a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds to ice matters.
The Bulls built a 14-point third-quarter lead. Noah’s block on former Bull James Johnson led to a Hamilton 3-pointer at the other end, capping a 12-2 run.