In a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls had quite the outpouring from several players. The Bulls were playing without guard Rip Hamilton, center Joakim Noah, guard Marco Belinelli and of course guard Derrick Rose. This didn’t stop Chicago’s “next man up” mentality instilled by coach Tom Thibodeau, though.
The Bulls had three players fill up the stat sheet with double-doubles, and another coming one rebound short.
Carlos Boozer scored 19 points, hauled in 12 boards, and threw in four assists. Nate Robinson played efficiently in scoring 22 points and dishing out 10 assists, and also hit four three pointers as well. Reserve forward Taj Gibson continued his excellent play coming off the bench for 12 points and 11 rebounds along with a handful of emphatic dunks.
Jimmy Butler got a spot start in place of Belinelli and ended up tying a career-high with 20 points while coming one rebound short of a double-double. Luol Deng also did well for himself putting up 17 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Deng did more on the defensive end for Chicago, therefore his stat sheet may appear as though he didn’t play spectacularly — it was quite the contrary, in fact.
This is Chicago’s first time winning back-to-back road games since mid January and gives the Bulls quite a bit of confidence, especially with their first win on Saturday coming against their fellow Eastern Conference foe in the Indiana Pacers.
If the Bulls are going to have any hope in a playoff run beyond the first round, their unlikely heroes are going to need to show up on a consistent basis. Gibson has played with great confidence since returning from injury, which is a phenomenal sign for Chicago especially with Noah out at the moment. His energy is irreplaceable for the Bulls, and he has shown why he is dearly missed when absent.
Butler’s play has been highly encouraging when he gets significant minutes. In a way, it makes even more sense for the Bulls to now let go of Hamilton in the off-season and allow Butler to take over the starting role in his place. He is a young and more athletic version of Deng, and could be a great player in the league for years to come.
Watching this year’s Bulls team, I am reminded of one thing: never count a Tom Thibodeau-coached team out. Never. With the way he can get his guys motivated, you never know what will happen.
Next up for Chicago is the tall task of facing a Miami Heat team that could have won an astonishing 27 games in a row if they win tonight. With Thibodeau at the helm, maybe that could be a season-defining game for Chicago. Anybody excited for Wednesday yet?