As is relatively common for Bulls games, this was an ugly one. The Bulls got off to a slow start against a pretty bad Bucks team and trailed at the half. With just a few minutes remaining in the second quarter, Derrick Rose seemed to get mad and burst forth with a flurry of activity, dishing out a pair of assists and hitting a couple of floaters, as the Bulls trimmed the lead from 9 points down to just 4, 53-49.
After the first half buzzer, Brandon Knight appeared to make a comment to Rose that Derrick didn't like very much. That lead to this great moment, in which Derrick channeled his inner Joakim Noah troll game, clapping and shouting at Knight as he left the court:
It was really tremendous. It was just another sign that Derrick seems a little different this year. He's got more of an edge and he seems less inclined to take any crap, from the referees or from his opponents.
The game stayed close down until the closing moments, when Jimmy Butler was also able to get his troll on with an epic flop that seemed to shift the momentum and will probably lighten Jimmy's wallet once the league office has a chance to look it over.
Granted, OJ Mayo does clearly slide over and hit Jimmy with his butt, in what is pretty obviously an illegal screen to keep Jimmy from closing out on Khris Middleton in the corner, but that was a flop so obvious even Jimmy couldn't help but smirk. At that point the Bulls were only ahead by 6 with a 1:08 remaining and it's possible Middleton was going to hit that corner 3 to narrow it to just a 3 point lead. Instead, Jimmy went to the line and knocked down two free throws, effectively icing the game.
Pau Gasol had another box-score filling game as he scored 22 points on 14 shots and tossed in 14 rebounds to boot. Similarly, Taj had 23 points on 17 shots and 10 rebounds. Both of the Bulls featured big men (with Noah out sick) received a steady (too steady for my tastes) diet of isolation post ups. They were pretty efficient with them, but they made for some ugly, disjointed offense to watch. Jimmy Butler, flopping aside, hit some big shots down the stretch and made some nice stuff happen off the bounce all game long and particularly in crunch time. Jimmy also lived in the passing lanes on his way to 4 steals. Rose finished with 13 points on 10 shots and 7 assists, but was pretty quiet in the second half. Nikola Mirotic is still pump faking somewhere, probably. He shot 1 of 6 and looked reluctant to pull the trigger from deep all night.
As a team, the Bulls continued their somewhat worrying trend of getting killed on the offensive glass, as the Bucks grabbed 18 offensive rebounds on 56 missed shots. But a road win is always a good thing to put in the bank, even against a crummy team. So we can be happy about that.