The Bulls were able to beat one of the few teams they've yet to beat this season (it's a short list, actually. A chance to vanquish another with San Antonio coming in on Thursday), as the usual Bobcats matchup problems weren't as much of a factor tonight as in their two meetings prior. Stephen Jackson got his, and Boris Diaw made Boozer look ridiculous a few times, and Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson boosted a team on a back-to-back to a competitive 3-ish quarters...until the Bulls eventually took over for good.
Derrick Rose struggled in the first half on his way to a pedestrian night, but even an underwhelming final box score still means many a Rose impact: he had 13 assists, and even on his wildest drives he could draw defenders and allow his teammates to crash the offensive glass unencumbered. The Bulls as a team once again dominated the glass, with another Omer Asik high rebound night (7 in 14.5 minutes) being part of a balanced night from the Bulls role players: Taj had 11 points (10 FTAs!), Korver was perfect from the field with 15 points on 5 shots, and Keith Bogans keeps his relative hotness scale surging past 'rewarmed corpse' going 3-4 from behind the line.
But when it comes to a bench unit or a starting lineup extending leads in this game, all roads lead to Luol Deng. Played just under 44 minutes and was the team-high scorer with 24, critical in the first half when both Rose and Boozer struggled. Luol's shooting has been falling off a bit lately but he's still putting in serious work this season just by being out there, defending multiple positions, rebounding, and being a solid (if sometimes frustrating) 3rd option on offense. The idea of overwork leading to a late season injury can't help but hang over it all, but it's been commendable.