Friday, April 28, 2006

Mariotti on Noce

Nocioni revs up the crowd

Let Shaq swim in foul trouble and play in a 34-year-old daze for his $20 million salary. At $2.7 million, Nocioni was the bass beat behind a victory that pumps life into a series that looked over in Miami.


Not quite like the old chants for Jordan, but poetic enough.

Noce is a one-man electric power plant. A United Center that was subdued as Game 3 began, through the Alan Parsons-flavored introduction that should have been retired with the dynasty, was rocked by the verve of an Argentinian devil who plays basketball like a heavy-metal guitarist. He isn't the most talented Bull or anywhere close to being the highest-paid Bull. He runs with elbows flailing and legs kicking in all directions, like a guy who shouldn't spend time in grocery-store aisles. The Heat also might call him the dirtiest Bull, the one they'd like to take out with a forearm shiver to either his goatee-covered chin or his helmet-haired head.

But I would submit he is the most indispensable Bull, the player most important to any fantasy of beating the Heat and advancing to the next round. Sunday looms as the most important basketball game in Chicago in eight years.


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