It's tempting to use the convenient clichés, or pull out that handy checklist that we all use from time to time to denote who has guts and heart and who might be a few quarts shy of both.

But when one guy sets the standard for these terms in a basketball context, and then finds a way to surpass even himself, there’s almost no point.

If you know anything about Joakim Noah, you get it: Game 7 was pretty much settled an hour after Game 6, when an All-Star center playing with ceaseless pain in his right foot decided that he needed to speak up and declare himself, no matter how silly his words might sound.

"We’re a team of fighters," Joakim Noah had said Thursday night. "We keep getting punched in the face, but we fight back. We’re going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn, and we’re going to win. I’m ready. I want to play right now. I’m just ready to kick some . . ."

You can figure out the rest of that missive.

You can also guess how the Chicago Bulls responded, because they took the court here with minds that were blank stone tablets, eager for their emotional leader to scratch commandments on it. And in Game 7, the kind of stage that makes legends, the Nets’ season was on death watch the minute Noah decided he wanted it more than anyone else.

"I just wanted our team to be confident, and I believed we could get it done. So that’s why I said that," the Bulls center said after his virtuoso performance carried Chicago to a 99-93 triumph at Barclays.

"Before this series, I didn’t know if I was going to play — I could barely walk. To be in this situation right now, to win Game 7 like this in front of my family, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life."

We value toughness and tenacity, but at least we know that the right guy is going south this week for the thankless job of sticking his chin out against the Miami Heat.

Noah rolled up 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in 41 minutes, which means his offense matched his usually stellar defense.

But the circumstances called for it: Luol Deng was home, still dealing with symptoms that suggest the flu or worse; Kirk Hinrich, whose absence usually means defeat (the Bulls were 7-17 without him) sat out to nurse his calf injury; and, of course, Derrick Rose is still a cheerleader.

So up stepped Noah, dominating the offensive glass early, creating second chances, hitting shots with both hands and generally inspiring a team that is a physical nightmare.

"Unbelievable," Tom Thibodeau said. "There are plays that he makes — I mean great multiple effort plays, where he could get quickly to a second or third jump — that very few guys can do. We’re also asking him to be everywhere in our defense — defend pick-and-rolls, sprint back to the basket, close out, block out, pursue the ball."

As P.J. Carlesimo put it, "He didn’t have a good game, he had a magnificent game."

Actually, everyone Thibodeau used gave him an A-game, as he was forced to stretch his rotation farther than he could in the first six games.

Even Marquis Teague and Daequan Cook got to play, and both were major contributors in helping Chicago build a 17-point lead by halftime.