The Bulls played suffocating defense, and Derrick Rose provided all the offense they needed to defeat the Lakers in what could be Phil Jackson's final game in Chicago. The Lakers jumped out to a strong start as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol abused Keith Bogans and Carlos Boozer defensively, but the Bulls roared back behind Kyle Korver's shot making in the second quarter and went into half time with a four point lead.
Both teams improved their shot making in the second half, but the Bulls came out a shade slow out of the gates allowing L.A. to take the lead. However, the Bulls ended the third on a 21-12 run after Tom Thibodeau called for time out with 4:31 left to go in the period.
The game started to get out of hand, and it looked like a route might be on, until Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol brought the Lakers back into the game. However, Derrick Rose had an answer for every time they scored, and the Bulls hung on to win, in a game that never got close than three points.
Derrick Rose: Why can't I be MVP? --- No reason I can think of anymore
When Derrick first uttered this phrase, most of us were excited to see him displaying more of an alpha personality while at the same time kind of thinking, you're probably a couple years away from that.
Not sure that's the case anymore. Derrick Rose has been spectacular, he's single handedly won so many games for the Bulls this season that it's ridiculous, and he's done so in a spectacular fashion.
He had 29 points and 9 assists, but at the end of the game, no one else on the team was ready to step up on offense, the Lakers were ignoring the rest of the team and focusing everything they had on Rose, and they still couldn't stop him.
Besides scoring on consecutive plays, he also had a great pass to Noah that should have resulted in an easy bucket, but Noah couldn't handle it. Rose knocked down 3/5 from behind the arc throughout the game, and hit a crazy, buzzer beating fadeaway in the fourth as well.
Anyone out there who hasn't gotten the memo yet? Talk to Stacey King.
Joakim outplayed his stats in my opinion
If you looked at his box score relative to Gasol's box score you'd think Noah was abused all night, but he came away with a lot of key rebounds, a few key putbacks, and did a great job on help defense.
He didn't have an efficient offensive night, and didn't dominate the glass in terms of rebounding totals, but I still felt he looked really good on the floor.
Carlos Boozer also had a solid night
Lamar Odom had his number early, but as the game went on he did a nice job on the glass and gave the Bulls some solid scoring. Boozer also did a better job defensively in this game than we've seen out of him all year which is a positive sign that he's getting more acclimated to the schemes.
It may not have been a high volume output night, but good things happened when the Bulls threw the ball into Boozer in the post. He was able to kick it out and create space and do a nice job creating for himself.
Luol Deng had himself a great night
Really did a nice job defending Kobe Bryant one on one for awhile, and he chipped in with a very efficient 14 points on 8 possessions. This is the exact type of game you'd like to see out of Luol Every night. He knocked down 2 of his 3 threes and displayed nice shot selection and restraint.
He used his length and size to disrupt Kobe, and when Kobe has trouble getting off against Luol Deng, who's not exactly a SG defender by nature, then it's fair to say he's lost a step.
Keith Bogans really shouldn't play anymore
It's unfair to rail on the guy to much given that he tries hard and does what the coach tells him to. It's not his fault if Thibodeau starts him (though I'm sure he likes it). All he can do is the best he can.
Still, his shooting isn't good enough, and his defense is really pretty average. He was the worst defender the Bulls used on Kobe all night as Deng played Bryant well in stretches as did Brewer.
The Bulls were -16 in Bogans 11 minutes and +20 in the other 37 minutes. Granted, +/- doesn't typically mean much, but watching this game, it really meant a lot Bogans both killed the offense and the defense. His replacements only kill one of the two.
Ronnie Brewer brings the energy again
Everytime he enters the game for Bogans there's a huge lift for the team coming, why we don't simply start him or Korver and play the pair all of Bogans minutes (or give Watson more burn) is beyond me.
The game turned in both quarters when Ronnie was subbed in for Bogans. He did a much better job on Kobe defensively, pestering him with his length and athleticism, and he really disrupted the Lakers entire offensive flow.
Korver had a fine night, but missed a couple open threes
Hard to bang on Korver for scoring 13 on 11 shots and hitting 3 of 6 from behind the arc, but he missed a couple wide open threes, and I'm sure he was pissed at himself for it.
Still, he was absolutely key in the Bulls 2nd quarter comeback, the game had the makings of a potential route, but Korver stuck 3 shots in probably 2 minutes, 2 of which were 3s and that was a huge factor in bringing the Bulls back.
Taj gave the Bulls a bit of defense in the 1st quarter
When subbed in for Boozer, Taj helped stem the tide of the Lakers offense and did a nice job on the glass for his minutes.
Unfortunately, he was held scoreless, attempting only four shots, and had three turnovers (and they were mental errors as well).
All in all, it wasn't Taj's best effort, but even so I found it odd that Thibs didn't go back to him more.
Omer Asik missed a dunk and a free throw
He didn't play much, and he didn't do a whole lot when he did play. At best you could say he didn't kill the team.
His offense is still putrid, but he still makes up for it sum with his defensive presence. You can never have too many interior defenders in the paint.
Tom Thibodeau pushed the right buttons
If he'd ever figure out that Bogans could be yanked from the rotation because he's really killing the team, then he'd be the perfect coach. The Bulls always play tough out of timeouts, and he tends to be able to change momentum with them.
it was interesting hearing him talk inside the huddle where he repeatedly harped on defense even when the Bulls were holding the Lakers down and defending well overall (though they did have a few complete breakdowns). It was interesting to listen to him harp on defense while the Bulls were allowed only 22 points to the Lakers in the first quarter while only scoring 12 themselves.
The problem wasn't the defense, but maybe that's what you can coach up the best. I'm not sure you can really coach up offense as much in an NBA timeout. Either way, Thibs continues to impress.
The Bulls now ride a four game win streak with two of those wins coming against western conference power houses. The Bulls now enter a stretch where they will be favored in virtually every game.
As we've seen against the Cavs and Rockets, the Bulls don't always dominate games that they 'should' win. They'll need to stay focused every night as they work their way through the easy part of the schedule. Hitting February, don't be surprised if the Bulls have ascended into a #2 or possibly #1 seed in the East. Even if so, they'll struggle to hold the ranking through the end of the year, but things are looking up.