Kevin Durant left the game in the fourth for good, Derrick Rose played out the string and knocked down a couple threes vs the reserves to drag the Bulls to victory.
Rose's minutes were probably by design. The Bulls likely wanted to push him up to regular game minutes at least once before preseason ended. 35 minutes is probably still a shade under what he'll be getting on a nightly basis soon.
If Chicago's smart, everyone important will sit out or play limited stints in the preseason finale to avoid any injuries that could impact the opener.
That said, it looked a bit awkward with the Bulls going hard at the end to win while OKC just packed it in and was content to evaluate their deep reserves. Maybe Tom Thibodeau's simply too scared to even lose a preseason game this year.
Maybe he wants to come back with a 95/96 Jordan vengeance too.
Rose looked human, sort of, no, not really he's awesome
After stringing together a few amazing preseason games, Derrick Rose was almost mortal in this one. His pace of a point per minute dropped off as he merely scored 26 in his 35 minutes. He shot just 6/15 from the field on the way to his 26 points. That's right 26 points on 15 FG attempts was a bad game for him.
The best news for Bulls fans is that after a shaky start with his jumper and free throws, Rose has reverted to automatic from the foul line and has connected on 12 of 23 three point attempts. He's shooting nearly four threes a game and knocking down more than half. If he keeps that up for the season then I don't know how you defend him.
Rose also continues his completely fearless play, diving to the basket with regularity, challenging all big men in his way, and knocking down shots or getting to the stripe. What's even better for Bulls fans is that despite how bad ass he's been, he still looks rusty.
He looks rusty while dominating the hell out of everyone around him.
Jimmy Butler returned and looked ready to go
After missing the last few games with a bruised knee suffered in Rio against the Wizards, Butler returned and played active defensive, was quick to the ball, and showed all the hustle that led Bulls nation to fall in love with him last season.
He had an efficient, though not overly prolific, night from the field to pick up 12 points. four boards, three assists, a block, and a steal.
For some reason last night it struck me.
Jimmy Butler has a really high basketball IQ. He's got good size and athleticism, but what really sets him apart from other guys with similar athletic profiles is that he's always in the right place at the right time. He's there because he anticipates how to get there.
He has a great instinct on when to switch and when to stay, he makes crisp rotations, he knows when to crash the offensive glass to find a seam and get a board and he anticipates passes well.
I think the organization has done a great job developing him with Luol Deng likely playing a pretty large role in that arena.
Not so fast for Hinrich, Noah
Tom Thibodeau stressed both were pretty far away from playing. Of course, there's still nearly a week left before the season opener, so they have time to get past that hurdle.
That said, Noah's still only doing straight line stuff, and Thibodeau more or less said his conditioning is crap.
Kirk isn't cleared to play yet, but he noted that he's no longer experiencing headaches. I'd be a bit surprised if Hinrich doesn't get clearance and suit up against the Heat.
Noah's a trickier case, you really want him, need him, for this game, but despite the fact that it's Miami, he has to rest if he's not ready to go. Groin injuries linger forever, he already had one set back by returning early from it.
It'd be awfully satisfying to beat Miami on opening night, but I'll be more satisfied with a loss and a healthy Joakim Noah in three weeks than a win and Joakim Noah missing two months of the season.
In some ways, this is a perfect test for the Bulls, there's a game in front of them that feels as important as a playoff game. The temptation for Noah and the coaches will be to play him even if it's a little risky. However, the reality is that the game doesn't mean crap, and Noah should only suit up if he's 100%.
Something which doesn't feel so likely right now.