Noah, Big Baby leave their mark -- if just for a game



BDodgers at aol.com BDodgers at aol.com
Mon Jan 7 23:01:05 CST 2008


     
 
One shining moment
Noah, Big Baby leave their mark -- if just for a game
 

 
A new coach and a new year brought out the best in rookie Joakim Noah. 
With the Bulls facing the Bobcats the day after New Year's, Noah provided the 
spark coach Jim Boylan and his teammates needed. In 18 minutes, Noah had 17 
points, six rebounds and four assists in helping Chicago beat Charlotte 109-97. 
The victory was part of a 4-2 start for Boylan, with whom the Bulls have 
averaged 104.1 points compared to 91.5 in 26 games under former coach Scott 
Skiles. 
"Having young legs, that's something I always try to provide, and that's 
energy," Noah said. "That's one of my strengths." 
It also didn't hurt that teammate Ben Gordon ribbed him before the game. 
"I was getting on him earlier, telling him that he can't dunk and I would 
never throw him a lob," Gordon told the _Chicago Sun-Times_ 
(http://www.suntimes.com/sports/basketball/bulls/724305,CST-SPT-bull03.article) . "He came tonight 
and played with a lot of energy. He had some strong finishes at the rim and he 
did a good job defensively. 
"He's coming along and we really need that kind of play from him." 
Of course, Noah followed that performance with two scoreless games, denying 
him any chance to join this week's top 10 (he'll have to settle for recognition 
in the "honorable mention" category). Ah, the life of a rookie spark plug. 
(Send comments, complaints or hype for your favorite rookie to Drew Packham 
at _drew.packham at turner.com_ (mailto:drew.packham at turner.com) .)     
    NBA Rookie Rankings  Rank LW  Player  1 1  
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4244/)   
_Kevin Durant_ 
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4244/) , Seattle SuperSonics
Durant's return to D.C., where he was raised, didn't go exactly as planned. 
(Durant had 19 points in a _blowout loss to the Wizards_ 
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/viewcast/2008/01/06/index.html?contestId=22494&vendo
rId=2008010627&vendorVisitTeam=25&vendorHomeTeam=27&pageType=recap)  on 
Sunday.) But it did remind me of _this video_ 
(http://youtube.com/watch?v=c_usicZKAps) , which highlights a hard-working, pre-NBA Durant. Also, for the second 
straight month, he nabbed Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors, which 
begs the question: Will Durant do what Chris Paul did in 2005-06 and win the 
award every month? 
2 2  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4284/)   
_Yi Jianlian_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4284/) 
, Milwaukee Bucks
Yi's career is just starting to blossom, but his impact on the city of 
Milwaukee is already being felt. According to _a recent article_ 
(http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=699381)  in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one 
venture -- the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce -- is banking on 
Yi's pull with Chinese investors. Yi was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the 
Month for December, so that can't be bad for business. 
3 3  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4245/)   
_Al Horford_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4245/) 
, Atlanta Hawks
The normally steady Horford had a down week for a change. In three games, the 
Hawks' big man averaged 5.6 points and 7.0 rebounds and was just 8-for-18 
from the field, all well below his season averages. The Hawks, coincidentally, 
lost all three games on the heels of their best December since 1993 (9-4). 
4 4  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4295/)   
_Sean Williams_ 
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4295/) , New Jersey Nets
Williams, who grew up in Houston, was a huge fan of Hakeem Olajuwon. So how 
does Williams' rookie campaign compare to that of his childhood hero? Well, 
Olajuwon burst onto the scene with averages of 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 
2.68 blocks. Williams at least is competing in one of those categories; through 
28 games, he was averaging 2.07 blocks in only 20.9 minutes. With 58 blocks, 
Williams is a mere 3,772 behind the Dream's all-time record. 
5 8  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4342/)   
_Jamario Moon_ 
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4342/) , Toronto Raptors
Moon's playing time increased last week and his production climbed with it. 
As usual, Moon was most impressive on defense, recording two three-block 
performances, and he also totaled 34 points and 20 rebounds in three games. Now, if 
he and the Raptors can just figure out how to stop LeBron James (24 points in 
the fourth quarter Sunday). 
6 5  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/3653/)   
_Luis Scola_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/3653/) 
, Houston Rockets
Scola has been a big part of the Rockets' bench, but the 27-year-old 
Argentine is already _talking about next summer's Olympics_ 
(http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2008/01/06/better_than_a_lottery_hit/?page=full
) . Scola, a member of Argentina's gold-medal-winning team in 2004, expects 
to play in Beijing. "We don't know who's going to play," Scola said. "We don't 
know how people are going to feel in six months. It's going to be different. 
Everyone is a year older. But I know I will be there." 
7 6  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/3637/)   
_Juan Carlos Navarro_ 
(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/3637/) , Memphis Grizzlies
Sure, Navarro is third in scoring among rookies (9.9 ppg), but his 
streakiness has him sliding in the rankings. "La Bomba" had games of zero points, 20 
points and three points last week. Meanwhile, one of his teammates, point guard 
Mike Conley Jr., is making a serious push at cracking the top 10 after taking 
over the starting job from Damon Stoudamire. 
8 --  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4292/)   
_Al Thornton_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4292/) 
, Clippers
Thornton is finding his place; he averaged 12.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 30 
minutes in three games last week. (He entered this week averaging 7.5 ppg, 
3.2 rbg in 18.1 mpg for the season.) Thornton, a 6-foot-7 forward who was the 
14th pick in last June's draft, had one of his best games yet Sunday, with 17 
points and eight rebounds in a loss to the Spurs. 
9 7  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4247/)   
_Jeff Green_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4247/) 
, Seattle SuperSonics
Like Durant, Green's homecoming party in D.C. was a nightmare. Green, who 
prepped at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md., before moving on to 
Georgetown, had eight points on just 4-for-13 shooting. Green also had five 
turnovers and was hampered by five fouls in the Sonics' loss. "I got in early foul 
trouble, it threw me out of my rhythm," he _said after the game_ 
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/06/AR2008010602169.html) . 
"It's always frustrating when you lose, can't play, get in foul trouble. That's 
the way the game goes. You don't have a good game every game. I didn't have 
one." 
10 --  (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4313/)   
_Glen Davis_ (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/players/4313/) 
, Boston Celtics
I get more e-mails about Big Baby than almost any other player. But how can I 
reward a guy who had 10 total points and two DNP-CDs in seven games leading 
into Saturday? That all changed, though, with one HUGE performance. In case you 
missed it -- how could you? -- Davis broke out with a career-high 20 points, 
including 16 in the fourth quarter, in _Boston's 92-85 win_ 
(http://news.bostonherald.com/sports/basketball/celtics/view.bg?articleid=1064879#articleFull)  
over Detroit on Saturday. "I don't think they respected Baby out there," Paul 
Pierce said. "But when Baby gets his opportunity, he definitely shows he can 
play." Boy, did he ever. 

Honorable mention: Conley Jr., Grizzlies (will be rookie assist leader once 
he qualifies); Noah, Bulls (season-best 17 points against Bobcats); Thaddeus 
Young, 76ers (16- and 11-point efforts in back-to-back games); Aaron Brooks, 
Rockets (22 points Saturday vs. Knicks); Daequan Cook, Heat (someone had to drop 
out of top 10; if Thornton or Davis slip up, Cook should return); Rodney 
Stuckey, Pistons (5.5 ppg, 4.0 rbg last week) 




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