CHICAGO – Don’t call it a comeback but that’s what it was at the United Center tonight as the Bulls came back from a 9 point halftime deficit to beat the Heat for a second time this year. It was a playoff like atmosphere as MVP chants rained down inside the UC as Derrick Rose powered the Bulls to a late 9-0 run that set Chicago in motion to finish off the Heat. Joakim Noah an Carlos Boozer did an outstanding job stopping Chris Bosh holding him to an embarassing 1 for 18 shooting. And it was Luol Deng who was the surprise hero as he aided a second half surge for Chicago capping off his incredible night with a go-ahead three with 16.0 seconds to go in the game. Chicago came to win and answered any questions there were about just how good they really are.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
The Bulls lost the first half in every way. But that’s why they play two. Chicago viciously surged to a second half lead and basically woke up the sleeping monster within themselves. Derrick Rose was his usual self but Luol Deng was the star scoring the go-ahead three which ended up being the winning three. It was also the ‘Welcome to Omerica’ show with Omer Asik coming off the bench to tie a career high in rebounds. Ronnie Brewer also came in for Bogans to provide much needed help at SG. Chicago dominated the second half and it really was D-Roses ability to close games that was the deciding factor. Rose set up the pass to Deng that was the final dagger but it was Rose who really closed the game out for Chicago.
Sooo….about That First Half
The first half for Chicago was far from impressive. In fact it was quiet the contrary, it was pitiful and confusing. Chicago lost on very level in the first half: points from the paint, fastbreak points, from the field, everywhere it was ugly. Joakim Noah made his presence known with numerous put backs and rebounds that helped Chicago retain possession on misses which also helped keep the score manageable.
The Bulls kept Chris Bosh in check pretty well as he struggled hard in the first half to do anything. He did manage to win an Academy Award for Best Actress when he took a dive on a Boozer ‘elbow’. The replay showed Boozer’s elbow bumping Bosh’s nose but from every other angle you would have thought Boozer had clubbed him in his head.
Chicago was unable to control Lebron James in any way in the first half. The Heat pulled away with a lead and James kept it that way answering any points the Bulls scored. The defense was a shell of what it was the game before the All-Star game. Everything was a struggle and the leads for Miami weren’t devastating but it seemed all night like Chicago was down by much more. James’ domination of the first half defense was a large part of this.
Noah’s Success within Struggles
Joakim Noah didn’t have a horrible night, but his struggles to reinsert himself into the flow of things was very apparent. He was under the basket gobbling up rebounds and slamming in put backs but it was clear he was having trouble running plays and finding footing on the court. But his man-handling of Chris Bosh says a lot about how ready he is. It may take a while for him to power back up to a full 100% but if his fire and vigor and intensity tonight is him operating under 100, I can’t wait to see what Noah is on full bars.
Bogus Bogans Doesn’t Help His Case
There was a lot of talk about the Bulls making a move prior to the 2pm deadline in order to replace Keith Bogans and his continuing struggles from both the offensive and defense fronts. Ronnie Brewer again played a majority of the game while Bogans sat. When Bogans played he was owned by Dwayne Wade and missed his shots. This will continue to be a major gapping hole in the Bulls lineup as long as Bogans plays.
Derrick Rose was his usual self but Luol Deng exploded as a dominating presence on the court. He had 2 points in the first half and had 8 in the first four minutes of the third quarter alone. He was the spark plug that juiced the Bulls second half surge. Dent was a freak and was all over the court and that infected the rest of Chicago with them utilizing their size advantage to produce turnovers and points. Deng was himself infected by Rose’s energy and razor sharp edge he played with. Ronnie Brewer said in the Chicago Tribune that when the Bulls play with an edge they win.
The Bulls were razors on Thursday at the United Center.