It was just one of those games.
You know what I’m talking about. One of those games where a lesser team claws and scratches their way to a near-win against a better team that looks a little stuck in the mud.
It’s not like the Bulls weren’t playing defense. Detroit shot 39 percent and committed 19 turnovers that were converted into 26 points going the other way.
Of course, the Bulls were in a giving mood too, committing 21 turnovers themselves. Although they surrendered 8 fewer points off their turnovers than the Pistons did.
Still, Chicago’s offense was off again, as they shot only 42.9 percent from the field and a semi-miserable 5-for-17 from behond the arc as the combination of C.J. Watson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng combined to go 2-for-11 on threes.
The rebounding was solid as usual. The Bulls won the battle of the boards 50-41, including a 17-10 advantage in offensive rebounding. Although Chicago only had a 16-12 advantage in second-chance points, so the offensive rebounding wasn’t an enormous factor.
Looking at the box score, what really jumps out at me are the plus-minus stats:
Derrick Rose: +25 in 41 minutes
Joakim Noah: +22 in 40 minutes
Carlos Boozer: +15 in 42 minutes
Luol Deng: +13 in 45 minutes
Rip Hamilton: -3 in 21 minutes
Kyle Korver: +18 in 27 minutes
Jimmy Butler: -1 in 1 minutes
Omer Asik: -12 in 11 minutes
Taj Gibson: -13 in 12 minutes
Ronnie Brewer: -14 in 13 minutes
C.J. Watson: -20 in 12 minutes
Usually, the Bench Mob comes in and wipes the floor with the opposing reserves. Sometimes even the opposing starters. But last night — with the exception of Korver — Chicago’s bench got blown out in limited minutes.
Contrast that with what happened on Detroit’s side.
Jason Maxiell: -1 in 33 minutes
Greg Monroe: -5 in 42 minutes
Brandon Knight: -11 in 38 minutes
Rodney Stucky: -16 in 35 minutes
Tayshaun Prince: -20 in 35 minutes
Damien Wilkins: +14 in 18 minutes
Ben Gordon: +13 in 29 minutes
Will Bynum: +1 in 5 minutes
Ben Wallace: 0 in 11 minutes
Charlie Villanueva: -5 in 20 minutes
It’s an oversimplification, but basically, the Bulls starters outplayed their counterparts, and Detroit’s reserves (for the most part) outplayed the Bench Mob.
In all honesty, the Bulls probably should have lost this game. They got lucky. Stuckey — who was great with a game-high 32 points and an astounding 18 free throw attempts — missed three free throws in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 16 seconds that supplied the Bulls with two chances to salvage the game.
After Stuckey’s first miss, the Bulls were down two but committed a five-second violation while trying to inbound the ball. Fail. Fortunately, Stuckey again went 1-for-2 at the line which gave Chicago the opportunity to force OT.
Which they did thanks to Rose’s only three-point conversion of the night.
Mind you, the Bulls didn’t have any timeouts and couldn’t set up a play. Rose had to just come down and do what MVPs do.
Said Rose: “Freelancing. Pick-and-roll, see what we could get in transition, they backed up and I shot the ball.”
That shot salvaged a somewhat embarrassing game for Rose. Yes, he had game-highs in assists (9) and plus-minus (+25), Rose shot poorly, going 9-for-22 from the field, which included several airballs and a 4-for-9 showing at the rim. He also committed 7 turnovers. A few of those TOs weren’t his fault, but he also threw some pretty careless passes.
Joakim Noah was a beast among men. He had 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. And 13 of his 17 rebounds were on the offensive end. Moreover, he kind of owned the overtime period. With 2:34 left and the Bulls down 89-88, he hit a tip shot. On Chicago’s next possession, he dished to Boozer for a layup to give the Bulls a three-point lead. On the next possession, Jo found Korver for a three-bomb that put the Bulls up 95-91 with 1:24 to go.
The next possession really sealed it. Rose missed from 17 feet but Noah snared the offensive rebound. Then Maxiell stuffed Boozer’s layup attempt, but Noah gobbled up that offensive board and hit a layup that made it 97-91 with 29 seconds left. A few free throws and desperation shots later, the Bulls won.
I should also point out that Noah set the (slightly moving) pick that freed up Rose for the three-pointer that forced overtime.
There was a little drama. Late in the game, Villaneuva committed a flagrant foul on Rose that drew blood. Rose was not amused…and he let Charlie know it.
Said Rose: “I was mad. I’m sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me. You got to say something. … You got to. He didn’t even aim for the ball. At least go for the ball. I felt like he didn’t and that’s the reason why I got mad a little bit.”
This season has been an interesting turnabout by Rose. As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell points out:
Rose was fined $25,000 last month for making comments toward officials after a March 12 game against the New York Knicks.
“I’ve gotta be the only superstar in the league that’s going through what I’m going through right now,” Rose said at the time, referring to a lack of foul calls in his favor. “But I can’t say too much about it.”
In his three previous seasons, Rose rarely (read that: pretty much never) said boo about officiating or hard fouls. He withstood no-calls and muggings with a kind of stoic acceptance. Not anymore. I’m not sure whether someone advised him to become more vocal or whether he really is just tired of the hard fouls. At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see if it has any affect on the officiating. My guess is it won’t.