Easing back into action not easy for Noah

The Bulls' Joakim Noah drives to the basket against the Pistons Greg Monroe. Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah talks like a frustrated player.

After returning from an eight-game absence due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Noah’s minutes were limited to just over 21 in the Bulls’ 99-85 loss to the Detroit Pistons Sunday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

“It’s hard not playing,” Noah said after the game. “This is the position I’ve been given right now. It’s not a time to complain. It is what it is and you just have fight through it as much as you can. You want to play. I can’t right now. You have to do what’s right and get ready for the playoffs. You have to look at the bigger picture.”

Noah saw his minutes spread out evenly over three quarters. He didn’t play at all in the second quarter.

“I haven’t played in a while, so I think the more I play, the more I’ll get into a rhythm and the better I’ll feel out there,” Noah said. “It felt OK. It’s something that’s going to linger on so I’ll just have to keep getting all the treatments and fight through it.”

And Noah is trying everything to recover from this lingering injury, some of which is getting regular massages and sleeping in a splint.

“I’m doing everything, any remedies you want to give me I’ll probably do it,” Noah said as he soaked his foot in ice water. “I did a PRP a couple weeks ago, probably have to do it again before the playoffs, but we’ll see.”

A PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets which stimulates healing of bone and soft tissue.

Noah went 4-for-4 from the field to finish with 13 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked one shot.

Marco Belinelli was a bit more rusty in his return after missing seven games with an abdominal strain, going 0-for-2 from the field in just over 20 minutes of action.

“I feel pretty good,” Belinelli said. “I didn’t play much, but I was feeling really good. I didn’t play well, at least, I wasn’t that aggressive. Maybe that’s part of the game. I didn’t play for two weeks with my injury.

“I was a little tired on the court. My rhythm of the game wasn’t good. I need to work more on my conditioning so I’m ready for the next one.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau saw some good and some bad in the return of his two injured players.

“It’s a starting point and we have to build on that,” Thibodeau said. “You can’t miss the amount of time that they missed and not show it. Unfortunately the games keep coming and they come quick and we have to be ready and that’s my job.”

Thibodeau has a few days to think about how he’ll use the two down the stretch since the Bulls don’t play again until Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors.

“Anytime you change the challenge is how quickly can you adapt to that change,” Thibodeau said. “Because there’s a change you can’t make that an excuse. Whoever’s out there, we have to get the job done.

“We responded when guys were going out and now when guys are coming back we have to respond the right way,” Thibodeau continued. “We have to be focused, we have to concentrate, we have to get maximum effort. We have to have that edge, we have to play with that intensity and if we don’t we’re in trouble. That’s all part of winning.”