MIAMI -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been persistent in his belief that his team can compete with the Miami Heat, but the stark reality that the Heat may have too much star power is becoming too tough to overcome.
"Sometimes effort isn't enough," Noah said after the Bulls' 101-93 overtime loss to the Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. "You got to do more than that. We had mental lapses. We can't turn the ball over against this team at all because they get on the break and they're really tough to stop in that situation."
For Noah, the mental lapses against a talented opponent are what makes such an emotional loss even tougher to swallow.
"I feel like every game is a little bit like that," Noah said. "Even the games that are eight, 10 points. If you're watching closely, all these games are so close. They're played at one or two possessions, so a few of these turnovers, I missed a few easy baskets around the rim. Those are things I'll think about all night probably."
After struggling to find any kind of rhythm on both ends of the floor in Games 2 and 3, Noah responded with six points, 14 rebounds and six assists on Tuesday. Still, that won't be enough to give him any kind of solace knowing that the Bulls had opportunities to win both of the past two games and didn't take advantage of them.
Noah hasn't lost faith that his team can still win this series, but if the expressions in the somber locker room are any indication, the Bulls have a difficult mental hurdle to overcome.
"It's not over," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "We still have games to play. [Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau] talked to us in the locker room about it, where we're going back to play at home, and we have to stay positive, where they are beatable. But we have to make sure that we play together and the turnovers have to be down, play defense."
The reality of the fact is that it's tough to play stop a superstar trio of James, Wade and Bosh who combined for 71 points and made plays down the stretch. Still, Noah remains confident.
"There is no question we can beat them," Noah said of the Heat. "There are never any guarantees in this game, but I guarantee we will be fighting. We have beaten this team before. It really comes down to a couple of plays, but you have to give credit where credit is due."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.