Last week I asked for help in determining the best moments from the 2011-2012 season. This week I have compiled a list of my favorite moments.
8. Kyle Korver Kills it from deep, against the Heat.
This game will be referenced again later, because this was the best game of the season and held multiple great moments. Not only did the Bulls win against the famed Heat with Derrick Rose playing his worst professional game in his life, but the win was almost entirely thanks to the now departed bench mob. The +/- for Watson, Korver, Taj, and Omer AVERAGED 28.5 points. Kyle typically struggles against the close-outs from the long and athletic Heat, with his limited effectiveness during the 2011 playoffs etching Kyle's futility elite teams into my mind. Yet, Kyle found his stroke against the eventual NBA champs going 5-6 in the game, culminating in a DEEEEEEEEEP three worthy of a cameo in the old Bird v. Jordan McDonald's commercial.
Kyle Korver hit FIVE 3-pointers vs Heat 12/4/2012 (via trantuanh1234)
Of the final moment Kyle Korver said
I was calling on my inner John Lucas [III] to hit the shot
7. Rose beats Milwaukee
I don't really have much context to relive for this moment. The Bulls should beat Milwaukee. The game was closer than expected, and eventually squandered a five point lead with a 1:30 left. Fortunately, Chicago has Derrick Rose, and we were playing in the friendly confines of the United Center North. Rose converted two clutch free throws with about 30 seconds left, but Milwaukee evened it again, setting the stage for this.
Another game-winner for Derrick Rose. Nothing fancy, just Derrick being guarded by Jennings, with Ilyasova sorta kinda doing something but not really. A wicked step back created the space, and Derrick nailed it.
6. Derrick's Tomahawk dunk against New York
Remember Linsanity? Of course you do, it was super-annoying. A good and underappreciated player gets his chance and shines. He rattles off a series of remarkable games against low-level competition, but since he plays for New York and being an Asian-American guard the media riled up into a frenzy. I don't hate Lin, and I appreciate what he did, but that damned media coverage made me absolutely hate that situation. Suddenly, Lin versus anyone was the marquee match-up people that don't know anything about basketball were drooling to see. Eventually that match-up was Lin versus Rose. Over the last two years I wouldn't consider the Knicks a rival, as they simply weren't good enough to be comparable with the Bulls, but I still love beating the Knicks. The media coverage they receive in spite of a decade of futility is unparalleled, and it bugs the hell out of me. Not to mention, the fact New Yorkers call Madison Square Garden 'The Mecca of Basketball', when it is quite unwarranted, lets me savor a Knicks loss.
Nonetheless, the game was billed as Lin versus Rose, and featured a crippled Bulls team as Hamilton, Deng, and Watson all sat with injuries. For most of the game Rose did not look great, finally amassing 32 points on 29 shots. Lin had an early block on Rose as Derrick was unable to get the usual other-stratosphere-like vertical, Lin and Rose even appeared comparable for most of the game. Then, the fourth quarter arrived and with the Knicks hanging around, Rose showed what Lin is not, a dynamic, explosive athlete of whom teams cower against his will. Derrick ended with 10 points and 3 assists in the quarter, but no play was more demonstrative of the difference between Rose and Lin than the following.
Derrick Rose Crazy Slam Dunk vs Knicks (3.12.2012) (via Edwardisavampire2009)
It is also bittersweet, that even though Derrick was ailing with turf toe, this was the game that injured his groin. The groin injury precipitated the majority of his missed games.
5. Derrick dominates Chris Paul
The three dominant headlines coming into the game were: Chris Paul v. Derrick Rose, VDN v. the Bulls, and good basketball v. the lockout. The first caught my eye. Derrick typically plays his best against the elite point guards and this game was no different. Chris Paul had amassed a very Chris Paul-like game with 15 points and 14 assists on 14 shots (Blake Griffin did most of the work by going for 34 and 13), but 15 and 14 paled in comparison to the utter dominance of Derrick Rose. He netted 29 points on 14 shots, with 16 assists and 8 rebounds, all while making Chris Paul look downright clumsy at times. Multiple times, Rose dusted Paul off the dribble. Multiple times Rose left Paul stumbling to gather his feet. Multiple times this game, Rose proved why he is superior to Chris Paul. This game and this performance made me believe this would be the year the Bulls win the title.
As I side note, I forgot how amazing an athlete Derrick truly is as I became accustomed to watching injured Derrick. This highlight re-illuminated Derrick's athletic transcendence.
4. John Lucas outplays Lebron in the fourth
Early in the season I thought John Lucas III had no place on an NBA roster. On January 29th, my thoughts were confirmed as Lebron James literally jumped over Lucas for an alley-oop dunk en route to a 97 - 93 victory. On March 14th, John Lucas exacted revenge, proving me wrong in the process. With Derrick Rose out injured, and CJ Watson playing hurt, John Lucas III absorbed 27 minutes logging a highly impressive 24 points on 12 shots. Lucas single-handedly shot the Bulls to a large lead early, and kept the Bulls in front late, highlighted by jitterbugging into the lane and shooting over Lebron in a way we wish Derrick could. Revenge exacted, and a 30 something career journeyman got to be the hero for the night.
John Lucas III - (24pts) Highlights Big Time vs.Heat [03.14.2012] (via JasonWilliamsMixs)
3. Luol Deng buzzer-beater against Toronto
This game was not overly exciting, and I only caught the tail-end. But for what the game lacked in quality content, it made up for in one spectacular unforeseen moment. The game was the second of a home-and-home series, which I feel always ends in a split. The Bulls were also facing the random James Johnson "I'm going to spontaneously combust against the Bulls" game, as he went 20 points 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. CJ Watson drove against James Johnson eventually having the ball partially blocked, falling helplessly short of the hoop. Out of nowhere the long arms of Luol Deng grabbed the ball and flipped it over his head and in. Game Over! Beep-Beep.
I was not overly surprised with the result, but once I saw the trajectory on Watson's shot, I thought the Bull's lost. Until Deng once again came up clutch!
2. Derrick Rose's Christmas Present
The first game of the season. The day's marquee match-up pairing the title-contending Chicago Bulls against the perennial title-contending Los Angeles Lakers. Thanks to the lock-out, a truncated training camp, and only two pre-season games, the play was sloppy and downright ugly. The Bulls looked like crap for nearly the entire game, finding themselves down 11 with 3:44 left. As is so often the case, the supporting cast helps hold the Lakers to five points on two buckets for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Luol Deng comes up HUGE in the clutch, scoring 5 points in the final minute, and thieving Kobe Bryant of the ball with 16 seconds left, all to set Derrick up for this.
Derrick Rose game winner vs Lakers on Christmas day (2011.12.25) (via kietasss)
A Christmas Miracle!
Not to mention re-establishing in my mind how good the Bulls could be. They played sloppy, it was ugly, they were never in control, but they were never out of it either, then they did to the Lakers what the Lakers are so accustomed to doing to other teams. They surmised their talents, executed and closed the game out.
1. CJ Watson buzzer-beater forcing overtime
Again the heat, again a buzzer-beater, again a former bench mob player. Reread what I wrote about Kyle Korver's triples, the bench mob came to play on this day, and on this day they DESTROYED the Heat. They bailed Rose out of a terrible game. CJ Watson sported a relatively modest 16 pts 9 assists in 27 minutes of work, yet is credited with a crazy +38. That is how awesome the bench mob was and how awful the starters were. CJ had a plus 38, and he still had to force overtime, with this buzzer-beater around and over Mr. Whiny Bitch Dwayne Wade. On this day, the bench mob obliterated Lebron, Bosh and Co.
C. J. Watson game tying 3 vs Heat (2012.04.12) (via kietasss)
The Bulls went on to crush Miami in overtime a lot to a little.
Honorable Mentions (or moments suggested to me, but that I did not enjoy live (in person, on TV or via Internet Streams)
The White Mamba takes over
I am quite disappointed I did not see this live, but from the highlights, it seems like one of the more fun moments of the season of our discontent.
The Bulls early defensive dominance.
Quick who was the first team to break 75 points on the Bulls in Chicago this year and when? The answer was Phoenix in the Bull's 6th home game (it also happened to be the 2nd of a back-to-back, 4th game in 5 nights, and 11th game in 14 days, but the Bull's still won easily!) In fact the Bulls first five opponents averaged a ridiculous 66.8 points, and these teams included two future playoff teams. Unfortunately, defense rarely makes for highlights, particularly defense over a span of games, but here is a shining example of what the Bulls defense was capable of during the playoffs, holding Philadelphia to under 70 (there is also a sweet clutch Luol shot).