Noah still struggling with mentor's death

CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah doesn't want to talk about the thing that is likely weighing on his mind the most.

He doesn't want to talk about the emotional roller-coaster he's been on since his mentor, Tyrone Green, passed away earlier this week. Hell, he doesn't want to think about it, let alone talk about it. He made that clear after Sunday night's Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizards when the topic of his emotional state, given this past week's events, was broached.

"I don't want to talk about that," he said.

Noah didn't want to indulge reporters about what he's trying to deal with privately. He racked up his usual 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, but the passion and fire that has defined him throughout the season was missing for long stretches of the game -- not to mention that Nene and Marcin Gortat got the best of the Bulls' defensive anchor.

"I think they played really well," Noah said. "They hit shots. They played really well defensively. They were very physical, rebounded the ball pretty well. It was a tough night for us, but it's a long series. Got to bounce back."

Noah is too proud of a player and person to think that he won't bounce back in Game 2, but there's little debate that all the emotions of the past few days affected his game in some way.

"It's one of those things that every NBA player tends to go through," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said of losing a loved one. "Somebody's going to lose somebody down the road. You just got to put it behind you. You got to play with that … you know they're in a better place. He lost a good person in his life, a real good friend, and he has to play for him now. He just has to put that [loss] on his shoulder and just ride with it."

Gibson understands what Noah is going through.

A couple seasons ago, he lost several people who were close to him and had to find a way to focus and continue playing at a high level. So what did he do?

"Just use that all on the court," Gibson said. "Use all that sorrow, that anger, and play with it."

It's what Noah has to do in order to get his game -- and his state of mind -- back on track.