The Bulls struggled again offensively in the fourth quarter, but fine work on the offensive glass, as well as strong performances from Carlos Boozer and the defense were just enough to give the team a win over the Bucks.
Many Bulls games without Derrick Rose will follow the script we saw on Saturday night against the Bucks. Games will be ugly and competitive, and ultimately the winner will be who executes better in the last few minutes. This time around, the Bulls made just enough plays, and not necessarily shots, to get by the Bucks 93-86. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Bulls shot just 39.0 percent for the game and 31.8 percent in the fourth, but they were able to gobble up a ton of the bricks they were hoisting up, and made the most of many of the second chance opportunities. The Bulls finished with a whopping 20 offensive rebounds, which led to 25 second chance points. In the fourth quarter alone, the Bulls snagged seven offensive boards and notched eight second chance points. This onslaught on the offensive glass was somewhat surprising given the Bucks came into the game as the best team in the league in terms of defensive rebound rate.
We saw a somewhat different look from the Bulls in the fourth quarter, as Tom Thibodeau mostly went with the starters as opposed to the bench heavy unit we've seen lately. It was the right move to make, as Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton were both enjoying solid offensive days, while their replacements were mostly meh.
The Bulls made a concerted effort to get the ball to Hamilton in the fourth, because he was being defended by the diminutive Monta Ellis. Hamilton failed pretty miserably, going just 0-of-4 in the fourth, but I did like the looks he was getting. As for Boozer, he actually rewarded Thibs for sticking with him, as the embattled power forward delivered one of his finest performances of the season. Boozer finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds (eight offensive), and his put-back slam with 29 seconds left essentially iced the game.
It was also nice to see more of the Bulls' trademark defense in this game. After a sloppy start that saw the Bucks score 30 points in the first quarter, the Bulls gave up just 56 points the rest of the way. That included 17 points in both the third and fourth quarters. Ellis and Brandon Jennings were each able to get their points, but the Bulls mostly limited the damage done by the Bucks' supporting cast.
Speaking of Jennings, he suffered a nasty turned ankle late in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off the court. I would imagine he'll miss the rematch between these two teams on Monday night.
So while this one was not pretty, a win's a win. We'll be saying that a lot, but the Bulls will take every win they can get as they await the return of Rose.