|Bulls vs Bobcats boxscore||Pace||Eff||eFG||FT/FG||OREB%||TOr|
Obvious first thing: after a flagrant foul from Kwame Brown (and a deserved call, the off arm was clearly not going for the ball), Carlos Boozer went down awkwardly and left the game. The Bulls are saying it's (only) an ankle sprain, which obviously could still vary in severity but is relatively good news.
Fitting, in a way, that it happened in a game where the luxury of having a backup in Taj Gibson was apparent even before the injury. Boozer was in foul trouble and on the bench two minutes into the game, and Taj came in and went 5-5 by the time that quarter finished.
It was a good game from both offenses in the first half, slowly-paced but trading baskets. But even though they were doing a good job penetrating both with and without the ball, a Bobcats offense, especially without Stephen Jackson (and Tyrus Thomas, though he's been out a while) cannot sustain that kind of quality play. So even though the score may have been in doubt into the 3rd quarter, it didn't feel like a game in doubt. The Bulls locked down the defense in that half, holding the 'cats to 35 points in total.
As their opponents became increasingly anemic, Thibodeau was able to employ a rotation strategy he used to great effect on Monday (as pointed out by Brad Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus) where he let Rose extend his 2nd half stint into the 4th quarter instead of his customary rest at that break (like he's used in the 2nd quarter). It allowed the Bulls to keep the pressure on and secure their lead, and then worked out splendidly as CJ Watson and the bench further extended that lead to the point where Rose didn't have to re-enter the game.
And any rest for Rose is a good thing. Though, if tired legs was what had been affecting his 3-point shot (as KC Johnson postulated today on Chicago Tribune Live) it appears that lull may have been over already. Rose hit 4-6 from deep tonight in a very good game from him. Did his legs under the shot look better because the shots went in? Um...I'm not ruling that out, but even the misses seemed to look better than what's been seen the past few games.
The Bulls as a team were a scorching 11-23 in 3-pointers, led by Rose and Kyle Korver, who had one of his best shooting nights of the season. With Rose on the bench for much of that fourth quarter and Boozer then out soon after with that injury, Korver became the #1 offensive option as they dared the Bobcats to find anyone to effectively chase him around those screens. And it was one of those games where he was hitting everything when even given a bit of space (and some times, a lot of space).
A wonderful thing to have, this bench. Unfortunately we'll have to see on Boozer's prognosis to know how potentially even more necessary it will be going forward.