Derrick Rose committed his 4th foul with around five and a half minutes left in the 3rd quarter. When he returned to start the 4th, he found his team down 8 points after being outscored 30-14 overall in that quarter. And the Bulls franchise player proceeded to absolutely take over.
Rose had 17 points in the fourth, mostly accumulated in a blistering run to start the period that quickly got the Bulls to a 10 point lead. Throughout the game Rose had been hitting his mid-range jumper while defenders went under screens, then extending the range out beyond the 3 point line. His first couple 3-point attempts in the game were in perfect situations: stepping into them while open after receiving a pass. I'm not confident in his overall proficiency from that distance yet, but seeing those shots in rhythm gets no complaints. But in tonight's 4th quarter not only was he hitting that type of 3, the midrange shots, and the usual forays into the paint, but even hitting a couple 3-pointers off the dribble...which means seeing Derrick Rose at his most unstoppable.
It was needed, as the Bulls played a solid but unspectacular game, and hopefully what happened tonight will be shown in future close contests: with Rose like that, that's enough to pull out the victory. The guy was so hot that he even tried to miss the final free throw and it went in...at least you could see him telling Thibs afterwards he intended to miss it (heh).
The Bulls likely could've won this game without that free-throw contest if not for a real bad stretch from Ronnie Brewer, where he missed 3 foul shots (2 officially), and committed two turnovers on dishes he received near the basket. Luckily it merely gave the Rockets life and not the lead, and won't overshadow the first half Brewer had, which was his best as a Bull. He was fantastic on defense and in transition, reasons why he's different but maybe not all that bad of a replacement when Bulls couldn't acquire J.J. Redick. He had an emphatic dunk in that half (where he scored all 11 of his points tonight) that had me wondering just how long ago the Bulls had a 2-guard who wasn't too undersized to pull something like that off. He doesn't absolutely need to be starting as long as he gets minutes (32 to Bogans' 14) but he may be stealing that job soon.
Rose's brilliance and Brewer's unlikely contribution were especially necessary with the Bulls losing two matchups at the SF and PF tonight, as both Deng and Gibson struggled. Taj had his worst game of his as-of-yet fantastic season, getting routinely worked by Luis Scola while shooting 1-9 (and a couple times missing badly on jumpers). Luol was stymied much of the game by Shane Battier, shooting 6-21 and I don't think any of those makes were in the flow of the offense. When Rose was out in the back end of that 3rd quarter, it was shown yet again how much Carlos Boozer will be needed to provide stability in those situations: Luol cannot be counted on to singularly eat up possessions effectively, causing a turnover more often than getting a high-percentage shot. In the 1st half when Rose was out, the Bulls second-unit actually erased a deficit, mostly behind causing turnovers (the dropoff from Kyle Lowry to Ish Smith was significant) and the aforementioned Brewer surge. Overall it's a problem that likely won't be rectified fully until Boozer returns.
Other more random things:
- Odd night for Joakim Noah, who saw his minutes decreased a bit as he was held out while Rose went ballistic. So his overall numbers were a bit depressed, but I thought Noah did a fine job against his old friend Brad Miller, especially early in the game where he mixed in his jumper with an acrobatic inside finish after a Miller foul. Also hit clutch FTs late.
- I love not feeling nervous when seeing Omer Asik in the game, a situation I was worried about heading into this season. Going beyond the stock description of 'solid' that accompanies a backup big, Asik can finish and pass inside and was adept enough at defending any Rocket from Miller to Chuck Hayes. Nearly 18 minutes for Asik tonight, and he's looking like a second-round steal.
- A couple subtle things I liked from Thibodeau: One was him calling timeouts late in the 2nd half on a couple situations when the Bulls looked discombobulated (a situation that occurred quite often tonight, it seemed). Another was his reactions to when the Bulls messed up: whereas Vinny always looked exasperated, Thibs looks angry in a way where you know he's going to try and fix it. That's probably meaningless body-language reading from me, but I still found it worth noting.
- Speaking of pointlessness that's worth noting...though this is something I don't like: Neil Funk suckage. In the first half, he said of Kyle Lowry's offensive game that he 'wasn't even looking at the basket', and then later on Kevin Martin, 'you could see in his eyes' that he was looking to shoot on a possession. First off: he's the play-by-play guy, and doen't need to give an opinion on their perceived attitudes, most of which which are overwhelmingly negative when concerning an opponent. And worse is that this comes from a guy who can barely see the game in front of him anymore: I find it hard to believe he can see into anyone's eyes to glean such information. Also, he found time to bash Courtney Lee and Chuck Hayes for some reason. Just the worst.
- Bad night from the officials as well. They blew a couple block/charge calls, one of which was on Rose, which as mentioned factored into his minutes later. Another was on Deng, and you could hear Luol say 'about time' when he did finally get a call on defense later. The traveling call on Brewer in the 4th was something that you never see. Though the crew did well in reviewing and erasing 5 points from Kyle Lowry that were shot after 24-second violations.
- Kendall Gill said at halftime in describing how well the Bulls bench played in the first half that BJ Armstrong once told him that guys 6-9 on the roster carried the Bulls during the dynasty years. I think BJ was misquoted.