By Michael Lee and Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Chicago Bulls rookie Andres Nocioni says "it's good" that the Washington Wizards have singled him out as the focus in this series.
After point guard Gilbert Arenas said that a couple of the Bulls were "dirty," Nocioni took exception and had career highs with 25 points and 18 rebounds in Chicago's 103-94 victory in Game 1 on Sunday.
A day later, forward Antawn Jamison played down Nocioni's performance by saying: "Happy birthday. That's all I've got to say. Happy birthday. It was a present. We're going to keep making him beat us. If he can [keep] doing that, I'll give it to him. Hey, he was feeling it. He was yelling and clapping and rebounding and shooting shots. I applaud him. But happy birthday."
When told of those comments yesterday, Nocioni shrugged it off. "I need to do my job, not worry about the other team," said Nocioni, a native of Argentina. "They're trying to talk and say it's my birthday. That's okay. It don't work. It don't work."
Nocioni was asked if he could give a similar -- or better -- performance tonight in Game 2. "We'll have to see the next game," Nocioni said. "I'll try."
Bulls teammate Kirk Hinrich said he can understand why Nocioni has frustrated them. "He's one of those players that gets under your skin," Hinrich said. "If I was an opposing player, I probably wouldn't like him either."'We Have to Win One'
Though Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan obviously wants to return to Washington with the series tied, he doesn't think tonight's game qualifies as a must win. "Must win?" Jordan said. "I don't know about that. We have to win one on their floor whether it's Game 2, Game 5 or whatever. We have to win one."