To (re-)use a totally hack-y joke: Kurt Thomas turned back the sundial tonight. With 22 points (16 in the first half), it was the most prolific game Thomas has had in 5 years (and when the last time he even attempted 16 shots?). The Bucks decided to leave him open to help on penetration, and Thomas made them pay, repeatedly. The crowd at the United Center was audibly interested in every Thomas jumper, as if it was a Rose drive or a Scalabrine appearance.
This is one of several big games Thomas has had in Joakim Noah's absence, and while after the first time I may have deemed it the Kurt Thomas game, it's clear that he did indeed have something left in the tank. Must've been extra satisfying for him to show as much against a team that decided after last year he was toast after he admirably, but maybe not so productively, filled in after Bogut's injury. And it was a sentiment I agreed with at the start of this season. But Thomas not only has a game or two left in him, he's had a half of a season where he keeps the Bulls defense where it needs to be, and chips in a jumper every so often.
Thomas' game was really the story tonight, though Derrick Rose overcame a poor shooting night (and word is postgame that he's been nursing a sore back) to hit a few in the 4th quarter, and finished with some added efficiency after going 10-10 from the line, and chipped in 10 assists (with a few of those to Thomas). Boozer also had some late buckets but had a quiet game, as did Luol Deng.
But as usual, the defense was there, and forced turnovers to cripple the generally-poor Bucks offense (made poorer by the absences of Jennings, Salmons, and Gooden, though that's debatable given their efficiency some nights...). Even after 'runs' by Milwaukee that would bring the game near single-digits...such deficits to them, especially against the Bulls defense, are pretty insurmountable. The game was rarely in doubt, and the Bulls are now 10-0 against the woeful Central Division.