Derrick Rose was Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah continued to be Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng kept right on dispelling the notion that he's not a fourth-quarter player, and it all added up to a big 96-89 Bulls win Wednesday night in the AT&T Center.
Noah had yet another double-double putting up 10 points and 13 rebounds. He finished February with averages of 11.5 points and 11.5 rebounds on 54.1% FG shooting. He posted seven double-doubles in 14 games for the month, and his scoring average for the season is up to 9.7 per game, meaning he should have no trouble finishing the year averaging a double-double for the third consecutive season.
Deng, who used to be criticized for not wanting or making the big shots in crunch time, hit a huge pair of three's late in this one to keep the Bulls on the winning track. He only finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, but several of those boards were late in the game, tough rebounds in traffic that allowed the Bulls to stop a San Antonio possession.
Rose scored 11 in the first quarter, keeping the Bulls in the game after the Spurs had led by as many as eight early on.
But it was CJ Watson- who scored 10 points on 4/5 shooting in the 2nd quarter- who helped the Bulls to turn the tables. Chicago went on a 28-17 run and built their own eight-point lead at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to the Spurs, specifically to center Tim Duncan. He put up 12 points and 7 rebounds, and that along with Chicago's 6/24 field goal shooting allowed San Antonio to take a 66-65 lead into the final quarter.
Anthony Bonner's 3 gave the Spurs a four point lead to open the final frame, but Ronnie Brewer hit a 20-footer and a pair of layups to give the Bulls a lead they would never relinquish.
The Spurs tied the game one final time at 75, but Deng would score seven points and Rose six over the final five minutes as the Bulls (29-8) won their second consecutive game coming out of the All-Star break.
Here's a temporary link to the Yahoo! box score, I'll have the official one posted a little later this evening. Thanks to everyone for your patience.