For once, no one will blame the collapse on Carlos Boozer. He was sitting on the bench as the Suns knocked down an array of difficult looks, and the Bulls offense struggled to score and his efficient offense helped build the big lead in the first place. Phoenix got hot in the fourth as the Bulls cooled off and only a plethora of beneficial calls allowed the Bulls to sneak into overtime.
Once there, Luis Scola fouled out immediately and the Suns ran out of gas. The Bulls built up a nine point lead quickly in overtime, scoring the first eight points. When Michael Beasley score five straight to give the Suns one last gasp, Joakim Noah slammed the door shut by knocking down a mid range jumper.
There's the Carlos Boozer we need
We might not see it again for awhile, but last night Carlos Boozer was the guy the Bulls hoped they signed. He scored 28 points on 11/20 from the field with just one turnover. He didn't create a ton of offense, but every time he had a little seam in the defense he sliced in to score or knocked the jumper.
Of course, detractors might note that he didn't score in the fourth quarter or overtime, but let's be honest, without Boozer's scoring, the Bulls would have been screwed in this game. He came through big early, and the Bulls needed it from him.
That said, I doubt any of us are expecting to see this Carlos Boozer again for another 10 games or so.
This just in, Joakim Noah? Still a bad ass
Noah scored 21 on 9 of 19 shooting and had a rare off night from the charity strip just knocking down three of six. What's most impressive about Noah's efficiency is that the majority of his misses were tip shots that don't really count as true offensive touches (of course, you'd argue his offensive boards don't really count either then).
When given a true possession, Noah probably shot around 75% from the field. He knocked down three of his five jumpers including the one that sealed the game in overtime. He also had a driving layup in overtime to help build the lead, and hit key shots all night long.
The offensive maturity of Noah this season has been something to see. He looks fabulous on that end of the court game in and game out. His unorthodox release is becoming a strength as opposing players routinely given him space figuring no one can hit that shot while Noah buries it on a consistent basis.
Gone are the groans when Noah takes a mid range jumper.
The only thing stopping Noah from being a lock for the all-star game this season is the rule change so that there is no "center" spot anymore, but now just three forward/center spots which opens up the opportunity for more competition against SFs/PFs, but he's playing well enough that he's still a strong candidate even with massively increased competition.
Kirk returns for 27 minutes of action
Hinrich had five fouls and had to sit for long stretches due to foul trouble. The team ball movement certainly looked improved with Hinrich back in the fold and the offense generally ran smoothly under Kirk. Of course it's worth noting he was on the floor for the majority of the epic fourth quarter collapse before leaving the game with his 5th foul.
Hinrich's definitely not a guy who's put up pretty box scores, but he spreads the ball around quickly and efficiently and the offense tends to flow pretty well when he's in the game with quality scoring options. Either way, the good news is that Kirk's injury obviously wasn't that severe since he returned so quickly.
Luol Deng continues his all-star caliber play
What more can you say about Luol Deng. He (along with Noah) has completely stepped up his game. He creates shots when the Bulls need them. He scores at a high level. He's played very efficiently. He's killing it on defense. He rebounds the basketball.
Any thoughts about Deng not being worth his contract can be thrown out the window. He's absolutely killing it out there. Wrist? What wrist? Deng's playing at an extremely high level for big minutes every game contributing in all areas. He's probably still a #3 on a championship caliber team, but he's also paid like a #3/#4 player.
Anytime I want to say something bad about Nate Robinson I remember...
This guy is playing for the league minimum.
He's putting up efficient scoring numbers for a team that desperately needs them. He's knocking down clutch shots, providing three point shooting, and is a great energizer and spark. Yes, the offense sometimes looks choppy when he goes into hero ball mode. Yes, he sometimes throws the ball all over the court causing turnovers.
However, Nate Robinson, as a veteran minimum third string point guard, earns complete bad ass overachiever points for what he's done this season. It will be interesting to see what his role is when Derrick Rose comes back, but I'll say this, at this point I'd probably keep Nate over Kirk Hinrich if I had to kick one of them off the team.
Three good minutes for Jimmy Butler
Early on it seemed like his night as he ignited the Bulls by stealing an inbounds pass and getting a layup, knocking down a jumper, then forcing an open court steal to generate a dunk. In a three minutes, Butler had swung a huge amount of momentum the Bulls way and seemed primed for a quality night.
However, that was about all the Bulls got out of Butler. His only other appearance in the box score was a defensive rebound he added later on, and he missed a few defensive assignments which likely contributed to his spot on the bench, only playing nine and a half minutes total.
Still with energy players, this is the type of thing you get. A big burst followed by not a whole heck of a lot.
Nice win for the Bulls
After a loss to Boston and an upcoming game against the Clippers, the Bulls needed to get this win. They looked on path to take it easily until the Suns smacked them in the mouth, but they recovered to lock up the victory. In the process, they also managed to score over 100 points. Mark that down on your calendar, you might not see that again for awhile.
Things will get much tougher Saturday when the Bulls head to L.A. to play the Clippers who've won four straight. Let's hope the Clippers have a let down game after defeating the Heat last night.