Joakim Noah sauntered slowly up the stairs toward the postgame podium, bracing his 6-foot-11 frame on the metal banister to his right as he made his final ascent.

The Bulls' center played 29 more seconds than team doctors told his coach he should have in just his fourth game back from planter fasciitis in his right foot, and perhaps that contributed to him walking slowly.

But Noah made every second count in the final quarter, willing the Bulls to a 90-82 victory Monday over the Nets to even their best-of-seven playoff first-round series at one game apiece.

"It feels great," Noah said with a sly grin when asked about his foot.

After this performance, of course it did.

Following a tenuous start, Noah made several big plays down the stretch, including a driving layup to give the Bulls an eight-point lead with just under two minutes to go, a blocked shot on a Brook Lopez layup attempt just seconds later and three offensive rebounds that led to five second-chance points.

He entered the game in the fourth following a Nets 9-0 run that cut the Bulls' 14-point lead to 73-68. But he threw a thunderous dunk down moments later to give his team momentum it never would lose.