Derrick Rose makes his 2nd wish: some help. He then regrets spending his first wish on that Skittles machine. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Bobcats have been playing better under interim coach Paul Silas, or perhaps more accurately under 'not Larry Brown'. They've run a bit more (though not tonight so much), and at least from what I saw tonight there's little structure to the offense. Nearly every player on the Bobcats poses a unique matchup challenge for the opponent, and there's a lot of one-on-one play (with some simple pick/roll) to try and exploit that. What keeps them from being a better offensive team isn't so much the ability to get one's shot off, but those shots, like, not going in.
But they made enough tonight, streaky as it was, and usually with a high degree of difficulty. Stephen Jackson scored several tough buckets late isolated on Luol Deng (who had a great game himself), and combined with a prayer of a reverse layup from Tyrus Thomas was enough offensively.
At 6 minutes remaining and Derrick Rose re-entering the game with the score tied, It had looked like the Bulls were going to earn another win late after spending most of the game catching up. They once again started out slow, down 17 at one point in the first half, and while Keith Bogans was also part of a 3rd quarter lineup that helped the Bulls come back...Keith Bogans is useless and shouldn't be playing (obligatory!). His awfulness, allowing the Bobcats to simply not guard him, was expected. What wasn't expected was not only Boris Diaw stretching out the Bulls bigs into a mismatch on the perimeter, but his starting frontcourt partner Kwame Brown getting lots of early touches and converting, and had 10 points in that first quarter.
From Diaw to Jackson to Wallace to Tyrus, the Bobcats present individual problems that should be compensated for by the excellent Bulls team defense, but many rotations were late tonight, including on DJ Augustin after he had beaten Derrick Rose off the dribble. Augustin may be the biggest benefactor of the post-Brown era simply by being allowed to stay on the court: his size will always be a limitation (and Rose especially is always beastly against him) but he's quick and can shoot.
And where the Bulls defense failed to protect Rose (Boozer through sloth, Kurt Thomas through age, and Taj through fouls), the Bobcats were more effective sending help aggressively at the Bulls star, and the expected Rose take-over time was not to be. The Bobcats kept him and Boozer from dominating the 4th, and you'd then see some shots of the 'Cats impossibly go in, and then other times not hit the rim. Maybe Tyrus Thomas was meant for this team, even moreso the Paul Silas version: he started off terribly from the field, managed to need 14 shots (and a lot of them jumpers while not set) for his 17 points, but he stayed out on the floor, rebounded like crazy, and and was never shy and didn't hesitate at all on his late game attempt. It was also a 'bad' shot, I suppose, but it was at least close to the basket, and it went in.
That can happen, which is why it's usually nice to not need a comeback to have the game close in the first place.