The absence came as a surprise, given that Noah was initially listed in the starting lineup. It would have been his first start of the season, but he decided not to play minutes before tipoff.
"You don't plan on these things," Noah said. "I wasn't expecting it. I've been feeling great up to this point, and it just happened. I don't think it's [anything] too serious, but it was definitely a situation where I had to be smart. I wanted to play tonight really bad."
In years past, Noah might have tried to play through the injury, but after offseason left knee surgery a year and a half ago, Noah has been noticeably more cautious regarding his health. The good news for the Bulls is Noah said he is not scheduled to have an MRI on the surgically repaired left knee.
"I was thinking about [playing]," he said. "It's been bothering me since this morning, but I don't think it's [anything] too serious. I think I made the right decision."
That Noah was going to start also came as a surprise, given that Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said after Monday's shootaround there would be no changes to the starting lineup. Hoiberg revealed after the game that Nikola Mirotic would have been taken out of the starting lineup in place of Noah.
"Just wanted to change things up," Hoiberg said. "Our defense in the first quarter hadn't been very good, not to say that was directly on Niko, but I just wanted to change the rhythm up. Maybe change the rotation a little bit. It was great to see Niko have the type of night that he did knocking down shots, especially in that second half ... but that was the thought, just to change up the rhythm a little bit to start the game."
Noah said he wasn't disappointed that he couldn't start -- just that he wasn't able to play.
"It's really not about that right now," he said. "I'm just trying to be healthy and trying to help this team. It's not about who's starting. That's not what I'm about. That's not what this team is about."
The Bulls are scheduled to have Tuesday off before they get back to practice Wednesday.