This time it was Luol Deng with two points, Derrick Rose with the miracle three to force overtime, and Joakim dominating the offensive glass to keep the Bulls in the game.
The Pistons and Bulls seesawed back and forth for much of the night. Chicago jumped out to an early lead which I thought would turn into a route, but the bench mob came in surprisingly cold and let Charlie Villanueva lead the charge back. The Bulls again built up a second half lead against the Pistons only to have go into a huge scoring drought missing 12 straight baskets to allow Detroit the advantage.
Down the stretch, the Pistons had the game all but locked up, but up by one, Rodney Stuckey split the free throws. Luol Deng inexplicably gets a five second violation inbounding the ball for Chicago which appeared to seal the game once again. Unfortunately for Pistons fans, STuckey again splits the free throws leaving the Bulls down by three with no time outs and 14 seconds left to play.
Rose dribbles straight down the court and drills a three leaving six on the clock to to tie the game. The Bulls then inexplicably let the Pistons roll the ball up to half court before touching it saving them about four seconds on a six second clock which allows them to get a pretty good look to win the game, but Stuckey's step back contested mid range jumper misses, and the teams go to OT.
In overtime, the Bulls are never seriously threatened and take home the victory. It was another solid shooting day for Kyle Korver who was four for six for 13 points. Joakim Noah completely dominated the offensive glass largely due to complete apathy by the Pistons defenders to go for 20 points and 17 rebounds (13 offensive and most of his eight makes were put backs).
What do we make of Derrick's performance? Well after a two point one against the Heat, it was a step in the right direction. He had 24 points on 9/22 shooting to go along with nine assists, but it was his seven turnovers which contributed greatly to the Pistons remaining in this game. He did look much more explosive than in the Heat game which is a nice sign. Hopefully he'll round into form over the next week.
Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton were solid even if not spectacular, and Luol Deng re-enacted Rose's horrible two point performance by shooting 1/8 from the field and suffered a rib injury which may keep him out of the Washington game.
For a rare change, the Bulls received almost nothing off the bench as, outside of Korver, the enter bench mob failed to get anything done. Still the Bulls found a way to win.
Magic number update
Thunder 5 (already lost tiebreaker)
Heat 4 (3 if they win the tie breaker)
Spurs 4 (already won tie breaker)
Already clinched home court against everyone else
Bulls vs Wizards tonight
The Pistons may not have a quality record, but they played much better in the second half of the season and were playing .500 ball for the past 30 games or so. The Wizards are nothing like that. They're just bad.
With Nene, Lewis, and Blatche out (and Young/McGee traded), Washington comes to Chicago without the frontcourt to get the job done. Let's be honest, the only reason this game is worth watching is to see the highlight dunks that Chicago will likely get. Washington's been getting beaten up by lousy teams and unless someone has a miracle game for them will have virtually no shot at beating the Bulls.
All eyes on Derrick
Derrick Rose still hasn't played a great basketball game in three games back from the groin injury. From a physical health standpoint, I thought he looked strongest against the Pistons, so he's progressing on the right track. The Wizards should present little barrier to Rose having a monster game tonight. Given their injuries, they have no internal defenders and only John Wall on the perimeter.
Expect some interior dominance
This is a game built for Noah/Gibson to clean up the glass and score a bazillion second chance points. Carlos Boozer may get into the action in the low post as well. Overall, I expect a ton of points in the paint for Chicago.
On the defensive end, the Wizards don't have the big men to bowl over Chicago, so Noah/Gibson should be free to roam and provide plenty of help defense. I expect Chicago to keep Washington outside and shooting jumpers all night long.
As always control the fundamentals
The Bulls almost gave the game away yesterday due to a massive amount of turnovers. However bad some of these teams are, you still need to show up and play quality basketball to get a win. Chicago can probably afford quite a bit of sloppy play and still get the victory, but let's hope they clean things up and round into playoff form instead.
Update ---- Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are both out
Without Rose and Deng, this game suddenly becomes much more of a challenge. The Bulls should still be the heavy favorite, particularly at home, however, the Wizards odds had to go from near zero to at least registering on the radar.