It's cliche to say a great player 'wills' a team to victory. Yet I'm far more ok with using the term 'skill'-ing a team to that victory, specifically one otherwise has little going offensively. And throughout the night, and especially (and of course) at the end of a close game, it was Derrick Rose who took the ball and got the Bulls the scores they needed. His and-one with under 20 seconds in the game put the Bulls up for good, and showed off his unique combination of speed and power: blowing by the initial defender, and powering through the subsequent grab and the help-defender bodying him to still make the basket.
Whatever good feelings came out of beating the Thunder on Monday can be tempered a bit after such an overall poor effort, but there is encouragement to be taken in getting a victory on a night where nearly everyone looked out of it. Even Rose, for all his heroics, often was settling for jumpers and launched 6 3-pointers, an otherwise bad sign except that he made 3 of them. Noah also finished with a decent line, but shot horribly (5-13) and I thought was a main culprit of the team's bad first half on the offensive end. Coach Thibodeau mentioned post-game the Cavs doing a good job of doubling Boozer, but there has to be better options then the many flailing Noah drives we saw tonight. (Noah also had a pretty good defender on him, the poor-man's version of him in Varejao.)
Overall, a fairly slow and uninspiring game. The blizzard-ed out home crowd didn't help, and neither did the home broadcasting team turning the game call into the Daniel Gibson bash-a-thon. However, there was something to like for both factions of the SG-starter movement: Team Brewer and Team Korver each had their guys perform well (there is no Team Bogans, outside of Thibs).
Korver was the Bulls offensive weapon in the 2nd half until Rose took over, playing in the same lineup with Rose who was setting up Korver off of screens, and while it always seems like in every box score Korver's missed more shots than you'd think watching the game, maybe that's because the threat of him shooting causes so much attention that even his misses have some tangential benefit. Ronnie Brewer played over 29 minutes, did his usual work running the floor and finding open spaces in the lane, and harassed the Cavs perimeter players into 6 steals.
Both guys were able to shine tonight at the expense of Carlos Boozer, who played only 20 minutes and sat the entire 4th quarter while the Bulls went small with a Rose/Brewer/Korver/Deng/Noah lineup. I mentioned above the inability of Boozer to get going early (didn't help to get 2 fouls fairly quickly), and his absence in the 2nd half was a tactical decision from Thibodeau based on matchups, as earlier in the 2nd half Boozer was not hanging with Antawn Jamison on the perimeter.
Always a risk to not play your best players down the stretch of any game, but Thibodeau must've reasoned that the Bulls were not winning this game with offense regardless, so might as well take the chance with a more athletic and versatile defensive unit. Worked out, and of course it helps to have someone to bail you out on that offensive end when it really comes down to winning time. (argh! ended in a cliche!)