As we know, the Bulls have a roster reliant on shooting long 2-pointers, and an offense (whatever you want to call what they do on that side of the court) seemingly predicated on creating those shots. It's been an issue all season, as it's a bad recipe for efficient scoring.
But not in this 4 game (road!) winning streak, since Derrick Rose has apparently decided to become the greatest mid-range shooter of all time. (or, something close to it)
From Hoopdata's charting of shots 16-23ft, Rose hit 6 of 10 tonight. In this streak he's been over 55% from that range, which would be nearly the very best in the whole league. It's an astounding rate of effectiveness, yet it doesn't seem too crazy when you watch. His incredible speed makes nearly all these shots wide open, as his defender is either off-balance or going under a screen trying to compensate for an impending drive. And Rose's form and arc on his shot looks better as well.
(Yup, something has looked 'better', and I've said before that the most important indictment of VDN's coaching ability was the opportunity cost of Rose not having a real coach in his formative years. Now that he's showing this tangible improvement, that's a notch in VDN's favor. Not nearly enough to stay here, mind you. But, if anything, to get me off his back a bit)
The only downside to this incredible run by Rose is that the rest of his offensive game makes it so that this amazing proficiency at mid-range shooting is not only a positive, but a necessity. For the second game in a row he didn't get to the free-throw line once, and in the winning streak (and 151 minutes) has only done so for 11 attempts. Some of it is him still not getting calls, and maybe being amazing in other ways will give him the 'superstar' status needed for some of the more debatable calls to go his way. But it's also his skill actually hurting him in that area: one particular play had him completely cross over Thabo Sefolosha, and with a shotblocker at the rim (I believe Ibaka) he went to his left hand, away from the basket, and flipped in a spectacular finish. One made to look so routine that there was no way he would get a call.
Now, it's better that the shot goes in (and Rose did punctuate his night with a spectacular dunk that saw no Thunder defender want to be the next Goran Dragic) than worrying about contact. But we know the great ones learn how to do this, and it's an area Rose still can grow in. The exciting part is if he can do that, and this shooting streak is not completely flukish? He can make an awful offensive team competent by himself.
Yes, it's all about Rose (I find myself writing like Sam Smith a bit), but as this was a game where the Bulls were nearly always in control, which meant many other contributions as well. Deng and Thomas did a solid job on Kevin Durant defensively, and the slight Thunder frontcourt was abused on the inside by Noah. Brad Miller continues his torrid rise from the crypt, and Deng hit 3-4 from three, Taj had 13 defensive rebounds.
I think everyone is appropriately on guard when it comes to when the Bulls turn in their next bizarrely-terrible loss, there's just been too many this season to have much confidence otherwise. But as it stands now, the Bulls are at .500, and their major road trip is nearly over.