Drink: NB Rob Roy
Derrick Rose missed the last three practices heading into today, resting with two ulcers. After taking part in the shoot-around, Rose was questionable for tonight’s game, but said earlier, “I should be able to play.” In addition to Rose, Carlos Boozer was coming back from a sprained ankle and Joakim Noah has not been on the court since early December. To say the least, the Bulls were not at full strength going into tonight’s game, but that is hardly anything new.
As many games at the United Center seem to go, this contest started sluggish. Rose was cold and Boozer looked slow. The Magic warmed up as the quarter broke in. Luckily there was a pause in the game when it looked like there was blood on Kurt Thomas’ jersey (turns out it was strawberry jam). After that pause, the Bulls got their hardhats on and fought back to take a one point lead after twelve. It was a gritty quarter all around.
Unit: DJ TrainWreck held up fine to start the second. The bigger story here was the Bulls big man situation. Kurt Thomas – fresh off licking jam from his jersey – picked up two first quarter fouls. Omer Asik came in a minute in the first, and picked up his second in the following quarter. The bummer of it all is that Asik was in the lineup while Howard was on the bench. Without Noah on the active roster, the Bulls need every big-man-foul they can muster against Dwight Howard. So with both big men logging two fouls, Thibodeau went with a small lineup with the ever so soft Boozer playing center. It was not long before Howard came back into the game and dominated The Beard. As such, the half ended with the Bulls down by five.
Big man foul trouble continued, with Danny Glover picking up two more fouls in the third and Asik coming in. However, with Asik’s insertion into the lineup, the Bulls became rejuvenated. The ball movement on the offensive end was insane, with the main recipient being Luol Deng. After only having two points in the first half, Deng exploded for 14 points in the third quarter. The Bulls outscored the Magic 34-17 in the frame and looked to have the game in hand.
The game grinded to a halt to kick off the fourth. When the action slowly picked up again, Dwight Howard got the better of both Thomas and Asik. At which point, Thibs went with Boozer to be dunkee of choice for Howard. Things got scary late, as there was no answer to Howard, but the Bulls stuck in there and won the first of the nine games of Hell. Congrats!
The true difference in this game was the play of Luol Deng in the second half. Deng had his way with Hedo Turkoglu, hitting most of his nine field goals in the eye of the Turk. It was an awful game all around for Hedo, who went 2-12 from the field. The opposite could be said of Magic star, Dwight Howard. 40 points and 15 rebounds is a hell of a game, but as Deng said after the game, “He can scored that many, if we get the win. We’ll take that every time.” And take it they will! The Bulls got a very important win against one of the East’s elite four teams, and now need to rest up for the Pacers (who torched the Nets tonight) tomorrow night.