For the first time since the injuries, Derrick Rose looked like the MVP. He went full bore against the Hornets at times showing the speed and power that make him such a unique talent and carried the Bulls through a game which was on the brink of disaster.
Chicago held a comfortable lead with a shade over five minutes to play then managed to go on a four minute scoring drought in which New Orleans came back and built a four point lead themselves. MVP time.
Derrick Rose immediately drove in for a score, Noah was open for a tip in after Rose drew the defense aside to tie up the game, and then Rose grabbed the lead by knocking down a fadeaway 18 footer. A couple of free throws later and the deal was sealed. About the only thing he failed to do was knock down one of his final two free throws which would have given big macs to the crowd.
* Note, you can bring your coupon to McDonalds and they'll honor it if the Bulls lose 154 to 26 so we can stop going nuts over this thing. This also works for Dunkin Donuts coupons, so if you're particularly cheap you can pick up about 50 of the Dunkin Donuts coupons off the ground that didn't win and go use them [don't you judge me].
Rose scored 32 on the night with nine assists and had several end to end drives for layups where he hit a gear not meant for mortal men. Only a few missed finishes that he'd typically make prevented him from scoring 40+, but he still came through when the Bulls needed him.
Has anyone seen the Bench mob?
Taj Gibson played some tremendous defense and had the end of game defensive heroics to match Rose's offensive ones, but the rest of the bench mob simply killed the Bulls. Korver and Watson combined for a 2-8 performance despite high quality looks, and the Hornets rolled on the Bulls whenever the backups were in the game. The reserves weren't getting it done defensively [a rarity] and still couldn't find a way to score [not all that rare].
He's baaaaack, Rip looks good in return
Thibodeau used Hamilton nearly exactly as I described, and the Bulls offense flowed much better with him in the game. He shot only two for five from the field but had five assists. The Bulls dominated the Hornets while he played, looking very crisp offensively. Most importantly, Hamilton said he felt great after the game, and he'll be ready to go tonight against San Antonio.
Joakim continues his tremendous play
Joakim's confidence has to be riding high right now. The Bulls are back to using him as a primary facilitator when Rose is trapped, and he racked up five assists on the night doing so. Noah scored 15, pulled down 16 boards, came up big in key situations all night long. This is the Joakim Noah the Bulls need against the Miami Heat. This is the Noah that gives the Bulls a chance at a championship, and he's been playing this way for about a month now.
Bulls will need more tonight
This was perhaps the most exciting Bulls game we've seen in awhile, one of the most exciting this year. Unfortunately, you aren't looking for exciting when playing with full health, at home, against one of the worst teams in the NBA. Point blank, the Bulls need to play much better against San Antonio. They're unlikely to survive a 3/18 three point shooting performance tonight.