After beating the Sacramento Kings 96-85, the Chicago Bulls got their first winning record on the infamous circus trip since the 1997-98 season. That season, the Bulls won the NBA Championship.
Not saying the Bulls will win it all this season, but the way they're playing - with so much heart and passion - it seems like they feel they can win every game, no matter the circumstances.
Tonight, the Bulls faced a 57-44 deficit at halftime, but thanks to stifling defense, they held the Sacramento Kings to just 28 points in the second half.
The Bulls, on the other hand, scored 52 points in the second half to ultimately clinch a 4-3 record on this season's circus trip.
Let's take a look at tonight's game:
What led to the Bulls win: The Bulls played three back-to-back sets on the seven-game road trip, along with four games in five nights to finish out the trip. In the first half, they were clearly a step slow and tired on defense. On the flip side, they looked very careless and stagnant on offense. However, just like they've done throughout on the road trip, the Bulls turned it around in the second half, outscoring the Kings 52-28 in the second half.
Derrick Rose, who missed Friday night's game against the Denver Nuggets, looked very sharp early on - scoring 12 of the Bulls' 21 first-quarter points. Overall, Rose had a game-high 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in 42 minutes.
Exhausted and ready for a few days of rest, Joakim Noah gave the Bulls another night of flat out energy. Noah didn't get another double-double on Saturday night, but he was pretty darn close: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in just a tad under 44 minutes played. He had some very crucial blocks in the 4th quarter, and grabbed key rebounds to push the Bulls on the fast break.
Luol Deng also chipped in tonight offensively, with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks in 43 minutes. Deng didn't shoot well from the field (5/13), however, he got to the line at will, shooting 14 free-throws, and hit a few very clutch jumpers - including a three-pointer to give the Bulls an 11 point lead.
What does it signify: The Bulls believe they are unstoppable. They have comeback from double-digit deficits several times this season; at this point, they truly believe they can win every single game.
The Bulls were one loose ball, one bad quarter away from a 6-1 road trip. Although the Bulls also had a chance at winning in San Antonio, not many teams will be in a position to win after being outscored by a whopping 25 points in the 3rd quarter.
This team has great camaraderie and chemistry, which should only improve once Carlos Boozer, who has been a great cheerleader on the sidelines, returns.
Key Performer: Numbers on the stat sheet can be misleading sometimes. Ronnie Brewer had just 8 points on Saturday night, but the backup shooting guard also had a tough matchup guarding one of the best young players in the NBA, in Tyreke Evans.
Evans struggled in the second half - scoring just 4 points. Brewer did an excellent job on Evans, and also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Keith Bogans, who started again tonight, scored just 2 points in 14 minutes. Bogans hasn't made an impact on a game in a while, and it just seems that he's starting because Brewer still looks a bit up-and-down, along with the fact that coach Tom Thibodeau has comfort factor with Bogans.
The Bulls needed Brewer or Kyle Korver to step up tonight, and Brewer did it. He didn't have a big game on the stat sheet, but he impacted the team on both sides of the floor.
Final Thoughts: I thought the Bulls would struggle early on, but eventually take over the game, however, the 13 point deficit is not something that I saw coming.
Nonetheless, the Bulls were still able to claw back and win their last game on the circus trip.
On my pregame post, I thought it would be very interesting to see how Rose would play with the stiff neck. He showed that he's a very tough player - notching his fourth 30-point game in six games played on the road trip.
Overall, the Bulls won tonight's game playing team basketball - getting good contribution from several players.
What's Next: Orlando Magic (12-4) @ Bulls. 7:00pm C.S.T. CSN/ESPN 1000
The Bulls will get a much needed 3 day break between games. The Magic are going to be a tough task at home, but hopefully the Bulls will get Boozer (broken hand) back in the lineup for Wednesday night's tilt.
Boozer claims that he'll be practicing by Monday, which would give him a good amount of time to get a feel of how the team likes to play.
It would be great to see Boozer out there for a matchup of two Eastern Conference powerhouse teams, but he shouldn't push it, either.