Hawks notes: friends Horford, Noah ‘wrestling around'

There have been none of the usual text messages in the past few days between Hawks center Al Horford and Bulls counterpart Joakim Noah.

Instead, the college teammates and close friends have exchanged bumps and pushes during a physical Eastern Conference semifinals series.

“We are out there boxing out and wrestling around,” Horford said before Game 3 on Friday at Philips Arena. “It’s all good. That’s the way it is. It’s fun. It’s basketball.”

Horford and Noah teamed to win consecutive NCAA championships at Florida before entering the 2007 NBA draft. Horford said it’s still “weird” playing against Noah.

“It’s different,” Noah said. “Me and Al shared a lot of great times together in college. We could have been pretty high picks after the first championship, [but] we decided to come back for the love of the game and the love of playing with each other and having that taste of winning [another] championship.

“When you share moments like that and then you have to compete against each other, it’s tough. But it is what it is. It’s OK.”

Teague duels with Rose

Game 3 opened with a duel between Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague. Rose scored 17 of Chicago’s 29 points in the first quarter, and Teague tallied 11 of the Hawks’ first 16 points.

Such eruptions are expected for Rose, the league MVP. But Teague’s effective play has been surprising since he wasn’t part of the Hawks’ rotation this season and had played few meaningful minutes in the playoffs.

“He’s playing well,” Rose said of Teague before the game. “He’s getting everybody into the game, passing the ball well, shooting the ball well, attacking, knowing his role. He was somebody that was in my [2007 high school] class coming in, so I’m happy for him.”

Quote controversy

Hawks guard Jamal Crawford apparently caused a stir in Chicago with comments about his team’s loss in Game 2.

“If that’s their best shot, we’re in good shape,” Crawford said Thursday. “As bad as we played, to be down six with four minutes to go, we had our chances. We’ll take some positives from it.”

Chicago reporters asked Bulls players about the quote Friday and also surrounded Crawford. Crawford said his comments were “magnified” because of the increased attention in the playoffs.

“It wasn’t like I was saying I don’t respect them,” he said. “That would be foolish. They had 18 more [regular-season victories] than we did. We just feel like they came out with their best effort, and we didn’t play that good and we still had a chance to win. So I feel like we’ll be OK.”