Shorthanded like this, the current Bulls have that element of the Skiles days where their defense and effort keeps them in nearly every game, regardless of circumstance. The big difference in this squad, of course, is Derrick Rose. Rose shot poorly overall but was the clear leader in points with 26: no other Bull even hit double-figures. The key basket coming late on a jumper over Jason Kidd, who played good D on Rose for nearly the entire shotclock until Rose shook him free and stepped back. The Bulls forced a turnover on the next possession and hit enough FTs to keep themselves ahead.
But it wasn't just the clutch shots, Rose also did his part hitting the offensive glass, a facet the Bulls did dominate tonight. The big rebounding star was Kurt Thomas, who had another great effort in these trying Noah-and-Boozer-less times and went 4-5 from the field. None of the role players had standout games (and Deng had another bad one on offense) but they each did enough and at least kept the defense taught and the boards crashed. CJ Watson hit two big 3s in the 4th quarter, Omer Asik was a force on the boards, Ronnie Brewer chipped in 8 points with 3 steals, and when they were overmatched physically they still kept the Mavericks from taking the lead with their taller lineup.
It was truly a slow and mostly-awful game throughout, and as well as the Bulls held the Mavericks in check, they themselves often looked lost on offense, with even Rose himself struggling. But this will be one that's looked back on at the end of the season as a game that could've been conceded, but wasn't. They've now swept the Mavericks this season, and one short Rose jumper from going 3-0 without Boozer and Noah.