After Aaron Brooks injured his hamstring last month, he returned for a single game and then received a DNP-CD for the following three. In the past 2 games he's been back up to 20 minutes, and there's been a bit of a 'second unit revival' as a result (or so Mike McGraw calls it):
Brooks found his best opportunity to get to the rim late in Saturday's contest. With Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham providing the help defense and Davis on the wrong side of the lane, Brooks banked in the game winner with 40 seconds remaining.
The final basket capped off a game-saving performance from Brooks. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls erased a 6-point deficit to win 98-94.
Brooks has been at the forefront of an interesting Bulls transformation in the last two games. The second unit of Brooks, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Kirk Hinrich has come alive in wins over the Clippers and Pelicans. They played with pace, moved the ball and became an example for what first-year coach Fred Hoiberg wants to accomplish.
Brooks has been pretty solidly an all-or-nothing player this season, and some of that 'nothing' was seen in the 4th quarter giveaway against the Clippers on Thursday, but besides that it's been all good stretches. He was running a two-PG lineup with Derrick Rose down the stretch in the Pelicans win and was the one dominating the ball and leading the offense.
But it's not the crunch-time effort that Hoiberg praised after the game, but in earlier parts of the game where that unit was playing how the coach wants them to:"We wanted to get a guy who can get downhill out there, get into the paint," Hoiberg said. "We're better when that ball touches the paint, whether we can get to the rim or spray it out for a 3. That's what Aaron provides for us."
"We're getting into our set and if it's not there and something breaks down, the second group is doing a great job of getting into another action, to keep playing.
"And that happens on a lot of possessions. As opposed to just standing and getting the ball to one person and holding it, we continue to cut and move. That's why that second group has had a lot of success lately."
"We'll watch the first and fourth (quarters) with our team tomorrow and try to show the difference," Hoiberg said. "This is what happens when we play the right way and we share the ball and we move."
Brooks playing better, and moving Niko to the second unit, seems to have fixed (for now, anyway) the issues plaguing the all-bench units earlier in the season.