I feel like there's a lot of these images with Jimmy - Rob Grabowski - USA Today
Wasn't domination, but the Bulls bench play was more than enough to fend off a possible second home loss to the Bobcats.
Well it was not a total destruction, but the Bulls were never made that uncomfortable in their 93-85 revenge victory over the Bobcats. Usually when the Bulls are coming off a loss they are really focused and tough to beat, and with a (theoretical) home-court advantage against the worst team in the league it suggested going in that they'd have a more emphatic win. But the Bobcats never rolled over, tied the game at one point in the 2nd half and were never farther than around 10 points down. Their reliance on small guards ultimately did them in, as the Bulls were able to get key offensive rebounds (and one totally surprising Boozer dunk) and seal a victory before their road trip.
The starting unit did not play well, a judgement that can be easily quantified by looking at Rip Hamilton's -7 in 15 Bogans-plan minutes. That lineup also featured the returning Luol Deng, who played 'only' 31 minutes and looked pretty ok: both able to drive inside as well as hit a couple of 3-pointers. But sloppy play was evident everywhere, and though Carlos Boozer was a featured player inside early he also led to some turnovers (not sure how he's only 'credited' with one) and the group as a whole had some missed opportunities. The Bobcats, like in their previous win over the Bulls, used their guards speed to get inside, especially in transition.
This game was won by the Bulls bench, who commanded huge runs in both halves and at times completely suffocated the Bobcats. Even when Charlotte did score, it seemed to come on bailout jumpers. Jimmy Butler was once again a huge factor, getting 31 minutes even in Deng's return and contributing all over. Butler was 7-10 from the field and scored on a jumper, some impressive drives to the rim, and posting up when the Bobcats would throw Ben Gordon on him. Butler even earned the privilege of attempting the technical free-throw, though he missed. He also provided his usual aggressive defense and offensive rebounding: for instance, a play to end the half that culminated in a Hinrich three was started by yet another Jimmy tap-out. He really is exciting to watch, something you can't always say about this team even when the results are positive. I guess you could say the same thing about Nate Robinson, but he kind of acts like a lunatic (and Stacey King follows) which diminishes similar joy. But there's little doubting Nate's effectiveness when he's on, and Nate produced a big chunk of a 13-0 run that kept the Bobcats away for good, with 15 points (3-5 from three) and 7 rebounds. Nate also had 3 steals and (somehow) 3 blocks. Kind of sick of the plane and wings and shushing and whatever, but it's his happy thoughts and that's better than bad Nate. Good Nate has been responsible for an unfathomable amount of Bulls wins this year, and an example of really great in-league scouting by the Bulls.
Led by Butler and Robinson, the Bulls bench outscored their counterparts from Charlotte 45-29, as my hero Ben Gordon did put in 18 difficult points. It was a nice end of the game for me, where the Bulls were ahead enough to where I could comfortably cheer for a BG three and hope Neil Funk to choked on it. Unfortunately he didn't actually choke on it and kept talking (I muted it, I'm guessing it was about Hinrich's great defenseohwaithesoutwithtwofoulsagain), but the Bulls were never really in trouble. After some shaky foul-shooting all game, Hinrich and Deng were 4-4 to close it out when the Bobcats resorted to fouling.
Almost neglected to mention Joakim Noah, he of the merely 13 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 blocks. Yeah, it was against the Bobcats, whose most effective player was young journeyman (which is a bad combination) Jeff Adrien. But it was surprisingly needed against a resilient Bobcats team, and any win is much appreciated as the Bulls say farewell to the United Center for a while.