Drink: NB Rob Roy
This was the first game between these two teams where both sides were “healthy.” I put that word in quotes because while Noah is back, he is hardly 100%, and Dwayne Wade perpetually thinks he is hurt. Regardless, these are about the best lineups these two can feature.
Terrible transition D killed some early momentum the Bulls had in the first. The Heat’s speed (probably the fastest team in the NBA) was presenting problems for the Bulls, as Miami took control of this game. It only took 7:57 into this one for Wade to go down with a phantom injury. He miraculously came back from it and stayed on the court. Everyone collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Noah started a bit slow, but got going as the quarter went on and was a large reason the Bulls were not blown out early in this one. With his minutes being limited while coming back from injury, he was subbed out before the end of the quarter for… Omer Asik! Yes, the Turk came in instead of Danny Glover. NB Nation blew horns and popped party poppers in joy.
In the second, Unit: DJ TrainWreck (consisting of: Watson, Brewer, Deng, Gibson, & Asik) played some great defense, but their lack of offense limited their ability to really claw back into the game. When the starters of both teams filtered back in, the Bulls looked out-classed and out-matched. It was a wonder that they were not down by 20+ (much of that had to do with an ice-cold Chris Bosh), and I pulled a Bobby C. when the half came to a close.
The third quarter quickly turned into the Luol Deng Show! Wait… um, what? Yep, Our Man from Sudan put the Bulls on his back and took it to the Heat. As Joelseppi texted me, “I’ve never seen Deng play with such a backbone bone in a big game. [emoticon, emoticon]” And I will have to agree. For all of us that bag on Deng (which means most every Bulls fan), this is one to remember. Another hero of this quarter was my favorite Turk, Omer Asik. With Noah’s limited minutes and foul trouble, Thibodeau trusted the center position to the rookie. What he got in return for his decision was some solid defense in the middle and a contest for every rebound. All of this resulted in a four point lead for your Chicago Bulls after three.
UDJTW took that lead and pushed it to double digits. As solid as the effort was from UDJTW, much of this hard to do with the fact that the Heat invested everything in three players and have no bench (said bench scored two points in the entire game). However, this lead would not last, as the Heat, rather Wade and LeBron, drove their way back into this one. The two Heat superstars attacked the lane, got to the line, and eventually took the lead, while the Bulls were reeling. Yet, the Bulls were not done. Derrick Rose and some great defense got them up from their backs and were able to take a five point lead with a minute left. Things got hairy in that last minute, but the Bulls kept their head up and closed it out, taking a 2-0 season series lead.
Side Note: Mario Chalmers attempted a shot in the fourth quarter. In his follow through, he kicked his leg out and hit Kyle Korver, in an attempt to draw a foul. TNT announcer Reggie Miller called out the Heat guard. It was mind boggling. Miller made a career in key situations of executing the same exact move, yet here he was, calling out a player for doing the same thing. In addition to his call-out being bizarre, why the hell was 2-7 Korver even in the game? He is on the team for one reason, to make shots. If he is shooting poorly, he should not be in there.
This was a game of two halves, if there ever was one. The Bulls hardly looked like a team that was one place behind the Heat in the first. In the second, the Bulls brought a renewed intensity to the game and proved that they deserve to be in the elite of the East. After last night’s disaster, this game became very important for the Bulls push to get the top spot in the conference (as they are now 2 games back). And seeing as how numbers two and three will have to most likely play each other in the second round of the playoffs (with the top three looking a cut above the rest), securing the top spot in the East is a very yummy position to be in. With Noah getting his rhythm back, hopefully this victory is just a step in the run to the top.
What else is there left to say, other than…