The formula is simple.
Derrick Rose + defense.
The players executing it in the fourth quarter was a new twist. Starting with around 3-4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulls shifted to a lineup of Derrick Rose, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik. They didn't look back until they subbed in the scrubs with a minute left.
Derrick Rose shifted into MVP gear again
Derrick Rose found his way into the lane time and time again. The Hawks tried double teaming him, triple teaming him, but Rose was smart about his shot selection and drove the lane when he had seams to do so rather than forcing the issue.
The result was an outstanding scoring night, many trips to the line, and a dominant MVP performance.
Some would say Rose needed to play better defense as Jeff Teague was lighting things up, however, Teague didn't do nearly so much damage against Rose as you'd think. The Bulls switched frequently, and Rose was matched up on Joe Johnson as often as Teague.
Taj Gibson stepped up to do what we thought Boozer would do
Gibson scored 11 points, all in the fourth quarter. He created his own shot off the dribble twice as well as knocking down some open jumpers. All in all, he was five for five on the night, and his fourth quarter scoring performance is what allowed Thibodeau to stick with the defensive heavy lineup that looked like it might be to offensively challenged.
Gibson commented prior to the game that playing at home can sometimes add pressure and isn't so easy. He sure didn't play like he was under any pressure. Gibson tore stuff up. His defense was as high energy and effective as ever.
Derrick Rose did what he typically does, but Gibson really provided the extra oomph the Bulls needed to get over the hump.
Kyle Korver disappeared from the lineup
Interestingly enough, Thibodeau opted against using Korver almost entirely. Korver played just a shade over four minutes with his typical fourth quarter role never materializing as Thibodeau stuck with the hot lineup.
Will this be a trend or was it a matter of sticking with the guys who got him there?
Thibs made the adjustments
Fans have been critical of Thibodeau lately for a variety of reasons, questioning the rotations, and wondering if he's too stubborn to change. However, in crunch time, he had the courage to play basically an entirely new lineup together and stick with it even when it looked a little shaky.
The plan obviously paid off big time as the Hawks couldn't do a darn thing against the Bulls defensive unit.
Nice job by the oft criticized Keith Bogans
Bogans finished with 11 on 4/7 shooting and actually had a run of eight straight points in the game at one point. We've often criticized Keith, but he stepped up today and gave the Bulls a big lift early when Chicago threatened to put this game early.
The Hawks did manage to comeback, but Bogans was a big part of the Bulls hot start.
What to do with Carlos Boozer?
Gibson has pretty clearly outplayed him, and the Bulls need more Gibson in my opinion. Thibodeau went Gibson all fourth quarter but will he go to him more in the future?
Do you lose Carlos Boozer mentally if you limit his minutes? It wouldn't surprise me if we see Boozer's role start to look more and more like Keith Bogans role. A guy who's in there to start things up for the Bulls but might not be closing games in the future.
Bulls got a make up call for that bad three point shot call
At a point where the Hawks had a chance to make one last run, Jeff Teague steals the ball, Derrick Rose clearly fouls him, but it's not called. The Bulls steal the ball back and end the play with a Rose floater for 2.
It was a potential four point swing, and while the Hawks likely wouldn't have won anyway, but it was a huge momentum changing play, much like the 3 Rose free throws would have been, as the Hawks were threatening to mount a comeback and fell apart after the play.
By winning this game, the Bulls took a commanding lead in the series. The vast majority of the time you win game 5, you win the series. The Bulls still have a tough challenge in going into Atlanta and finishing off the Hawks though.
We'll see if they can pull it off on Thursday.