The East-leading Bulls dominated a carelessly bad Timberwolves squad 108-90 in Minnesota to keep a 2.5 game lead over the Celtics and Heat.
The Bulls (54-20) lead by as much as 26 in their 108-91rout over the Timberwolves (17-58) in Minnesota on Wednesday to extend their lead over the Celtics (51-22) by a half-game to 2.5. The Heat (52-23) 123-107 pounding over the Wizards in D.C. put them percentage points behind them percentage points behind the C's for second.
- Don't let the Wolves' 91 points fool you; this was a 92.5-possession game because Minny shoots so damn fast. The Bulls' defensive rating was still a dominant 98.4 for the game to slightly extend their 0.1 rating point lead over the C's for the best defense in the NBA.
- The Bulls bench was outscored in the fourth quarter 25-22, where Minny had runs of 9-2 and 12-3 -- cutting a once 26-point lead to 13 -- but Tom Thibodeau didn't panic or sacrifice resting starters to send a message. Six of the Bulls' 12 turnovers came in the final period -- three from C.J. Watson (13 points on 5-for-8, four assists in 17:04), on top of his 11 final-quarter-points.
- Kurt Thomas (six points, eight rebounds) started for the Bulls at center for Joakim Noah (ankle sprain). It was said throughout the evening that Noah's injury is light and could've played were Wednesday a playoff-type game.
- Luol Deng was a shutdown defender. The Wolves wanted Beasley to get more than 12 shots and that was clear, but Deng denied him the ball throughout the night. With the ball, Beasley has very strong moves, but Deng was on is toes and kept his body in position with his feet -- keeping away the need to excessively foul. Beasley hit three of his five shots with Deng's hand right in his face, so credit all-around for that.
- Boozer's an amazing passer. We saw it a bit when Noah was out with the hand injury, but Boozer mans the high post as well as any big. We don't get to see five assist per 36 minute nights because he doesn't get the ball enough from Rose on the first pass. This puts an offensive player as skilled as Boozer in the position where he needs to score almost every time he touches the basketball because he's insecure about when he'll get the ball back. This isn't selfish when you're the most efficient offensive player on the floor.
"We played off D-Rose, then made the secondary passes, made plays from there," Boozer said after the game. (NBA.com) "We're trying to be unselfish. We're getting there. In the long haul, we need to share the ball."
When Boozer received the ball early in the shot clock, Deng began cutting to the basket more without the ball and the two developed a nice give-and-go, quick play two-man game that can kill opponents focuesed on Rose off the ball. My favorite play of the night was a thing a beauty between the Dukies:
- OK, that's a lie -- Omer Asik putting Love on his ass with a monster block to make up for letting Love blow past him tops my list:
- The Bulls have won nine of their last 11 on the road. After starting the season 13-13 on the road, the Bulls' Achilles Heel is looking less vulnerable. They're now 22-15 away from the United Center.