Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Ball Don't Lie

Derrick Rose sits as C.J. Watson, Bulls ‘Bench Mob’ star late in OT win over Heat (VIDEO)

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

Derrick Rose felt ready to start on Thursday night, but it was very apparent that he wasn't ready to finish. Luckily for the Chicago Bulls, C.J. Watson was.

With Rose struggling mightily in his return to the lineup after missing Tuesday night's win over the New York Knicks with a sprained right ankle, backup point guard Watson stepped in and stepped up in 27 huge minutes off the Chicago bench. The fifth-year man out of Tennessee scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, notching nine assists against just one turnover to go with three rebounds and three steals, and he nailed a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter to send the Bulls' marquee Thursday night matchup with the Miami Heat into overtime. Once there, the Bulls bench bullied the Heat, outscoring Miami 12-2 in the extra frame and nailing down a 96-86 overtime win that clinched the Bulls' second straight Central Division title and gives Chicago (45-14) a four-game lead over Miami (40-17) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

After resting his ailing ankle for a couple of days, Rose felt ready to give it a go and return to the starting lineup for the Thursday night showdown between the teams with the East's two best records. He looked rusty and rickety, though, going scoreless in the first half for the first time in his 304-game NBA career (playoffs included) and managing just two points on 1-of-13 shooting in 25-plus minutes of floor time. (He did chip in eight assists, three rebounds and a steal.) As he's done all season, though, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looked down the bench, called on a reserve and expected him to do the job. Watson delivered, turning in stellar play to close the third quarter, in the first nine minutes of the fourth and running the show for the entirety of overtime. In fact, according to K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune, Thibodeau said after the game that "if Watson had not needed a short, fourth-quarter break, Rose [...] would have sat for the final 18:45."

While Watson's performance drew headlines, he wasn't the only member of the Bulls' so-called "Bench Mob" to come up huge. Taj Gibson scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and was a game-changer at the start of the overtime period. Omer Asik had just about the most dominant scoreless night you'll ever see, grabbing eight rebounds, blocking two shots and locking down the paint in just under 23 minutes of intimidating defensive work. Kyle Korver was locked in, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers and scoring 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a 27-foot bomb with 1:01 left in added time that put the Bulls up 10 and sealed the win.

In revisiting Watson's 3-pointer Friday morning, Blog a Bull's Matt writes that he thinks something went awry for the Heat on that defensive possession: "Someone between LeBron and Battier was supposed to switch (or stay) on Watson, and instead they both follow Korver into the Taj pick effectively making it a triple-team." Still, five very big things had to go right in a very short period of time for the Bulls to knot it up.

Korver had to safely pass out of the triple-team, Carlos Boozer had to both recognize that there was a wide-open shooter on the far side of the floor and get the ball to him, Watson had to avoid the hard-charging Wade's closeout without being run off the 3-point line, and then Watson had to knock down the long ball with 2.2 ticks left on the clock. (Plus, it's not as if the play unfolded exactly how Thibodeau drew it up, either; according to the Tribune's Johnson, Watson joked after the game that the final play call "definitely wasn't for me.") But they all did; Chicago went 5 for 5, adding five more minutes to the game, and closing it out from there.

For his part, Rose said he had no problem with staying seated while Watson and the Bench Mob walked Miami down in the third and fourth quarters, then eventually put the Heat away in OT. From Nick Friedell at ESPN Chicago:

"I'm fine, man," Rose said of coach Tom Thibodeau's decision to sit him down the stretch. "Anything to win. Where he felt that lineup was going to win the game, it won the game, and I can't complain about anything." [...]

Thibodeau admitted it was a little strange benching the reigning MVP. [...]

"Big picture, in terms of, if this were his first or second year, maybe you would be more concerned with that. But where Derrick is now as a player, he knows, he understands the situation. [...] The thing that you love about him, he was so happy we won, and so happy for his teammates, and that's who Derrick is."

Bulls center Joakim Noah likewise lauded Rose's leadership as "a team-first guy" whose approach and attitude "trickles down to everybody" in the Chicago locker room. Noah clearly takes the message to heart if he's not carping after the lengthy siesta he saw Thursday night — he was replaced by Asik with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter, didn't play in the fourth and stayed parked on the bench until Gibson fouled out with 1:23 left in overtime. Despite totaling just 22:45 of floor time for the game, though, Noah struck a positive note. No poo-poo faces here.

That Chicago's bench was the X-factor on Thursday is no surprise, given the way the two teams' prior three games of this season worked out. When the Heat beat the Bulls in their first meeting of the season, back on Jan. 29, the two benches played to a standstill on the score sheet, with each contributing 17 points in a game largely decided by the starting 10. (Miami's reserves actually got the better of Chicago's in other areas, outrebounding the Bulls' backups 17-10 and dishing five assists to Chicago's one.) In their last two matchups, though, the Bulls bench has been the overwhelming difference-maker, outscoring Miami's second unit by a staggering 103-22 margin in two games decided by a total of 14 points. Not surprisingly, Chicago won 'em both.

It bears mentioning that LeBron James missed one of two free throws with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter. If he'd made them both, Miami would have taken a two-possession lead at 85-81, meaning Chicago needed two scores to win. Instead, he put the Heat up 84-81, leaving the door open for Watson's 3-pointer to stretch out the game.

It also bears mentioning that 38 seconds earlier, James hit a corner 3-pointer of his own to put Miami up 83-81, and that he scored 30 points with six rebounds and five assists for the game, and that he absolutely carried the Heat through the multiple stretches of the game during which every one of his teammates — Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh included — played like hot garbage. So make of LeBron's late-game play what you will. (As if we weren't all going to do that anyway.)

Are the videos above not working for you? Please feel free to watch Watson sending the game to overtime and the Bulls' bench dominating the extra frame elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.

View Comments (11)

Recommended for You

  • Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not play Saturday night against Clemson

    Florida State dropped some big news late Friday night. After originally stating that Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston would be suspended for the first half of Saturday night’s game against Clemson, the school announced via a statement from interim president Garnett Stokes and…

    Dr. Saturday
  • Extraordinary day: Thiago Silva cut, Anthony Johnson suspended, Wanderlei Silva retires

    Two cases of domestic violence, an athlete holding a gun, allegations of drug use and an unhappy fighter ripping his organization highlighted the news that happened Friday in the UFC. Iconic light heavyweight Wanderlei Silva, one of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts history, announced…

    Cagewriter
  • Rex Chapman arrested for allegedly stealing $14,000 in merchandise from Arizona Apple Store

    Former NBA guard Rex Chapman, who played 12 seasons for four teams over a well-regarded career, was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing more than $14,000 in merchandise from a Scottsdale, Arizona Apple Store. According to area police, the 46-year-old Chapman stole the items over seven different…

    Ball Don't Lie
  • WWE releases two Developmental roster members

    Multiple sources are confirming that WWE has released two members of the NXT/Developmental roster today.  Neither had been featured prominently on television, but both had appeared. One of the releases is Kendall Skye (real name Kendra Smith), a

    SB Nation
  • View

    Roger Goodell apologizes during press conference (12 photos)

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl. At a news conference Friday, Goodell made his first public statements in more than a week about the rash of NFL players involved

    Yahoo Sports
  • Thiago Silva's ex-wife posts video of him allegedly high on cocaine and searching their house

    Thiago Silva's ex-wife posts video of him allegedly high on cocaine and searching their house While the court case against Thiago Silva may not be going forward, is ex-wife is apparently publishing her own evidence of his actions. Well, this certainly

    SB Nation
  • Ravens release statement following ESPN Outside The Lines story

    The Ravens offered a brief statement concerning the ESPN Outside The Lines story that published early Friday evening. The Ravens will address all of these next week in Baltimore after our trip to Cleveland for Sunday's game against the Browns." John Harbaugh will likely get asked about the report…

    SB Nation
  • Report: Bridgewater Won't Start Without Adrian Peterson?

    The following is an interview with Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. .on what he's heard regarding the status of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, allegedly from speaking to a Minnesota Vikings coach. For starters, I understand that Adrian Peterson has been the centerpiece of the Minnesota…

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    10:00 AM PDT
    Minnesota at New Orleans
    Preview Game
  • Wanderlei Silva rips the UFC, announces his retirement

    Wanderlei Silva will never fight again. More than a year after his last fight inside the Octagon, and still involved a controversy with the Nevada Athletic Commission, the former PRIDE champion has announced his retirement on YouTube. After today, Wanderlei Silva will not fight again," he said.

    SB Nation
  • Thornton on Wilson's offseason comments: 'I don't need somebody else telling me we can't do it'

    Thornton on Wilson's offseason comments: 'I don't need somebody else telling me we can't do it' Count the former captain among the many who believe the Sharks don't need a rebuild or culture change. Anyone who believed the start of training camp would bring with it an instant dissipation of all the…

    SB Nation
  • Cris Cyborg fires back at 'uneducated' Ronda Rousey, tells 'Rowdy' to 'grow up'

    Cris Cyborg fires back at 'uneducated' Ronda Rousey, tells 'Rowdy' to 'grow up' Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey was in Brazil last weekend as part of the UFC Fight Night 51 festivities (video here). Naturally, the Brazilian media wanted to know more…

    SB Nation
  • View

    Fantasy football starts and sits - Week 3 (12 photos)

    Yahoo Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston breaks down the players that you should start and sit this week. It didn't take long before many football pundits were floating the idea that Cousins is a better fit for the Washington offense than RG3. In a matchup that oddsmakers deem to be one of the…

    Yahoo Sports
  • Dion Jordan has suspension lifted ... then gets another four-game ban

    Hey, good news for Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan: His four-game suspension was lifted as part of the league's new drug policy. Jordan, the third pick of last year's draft, served two games of a four-game ban for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and just as…

    Shutdown Corner
    Sun, Sep 21
    1:25 PM PDT
    Kansas City at Miami
    Preview Game
  • Drogba dedicates time to mentoring Hazard as Belgian seeks to raise his game

    One of the most interesting aspects of Eden Hazard's footballing personality is the way he seems to get attached to the older generation of stars. Last year he latched onto Samuel Eto'o, and this time around it's apparently Didier Drogba who's taken it upon himself to shape Hazard into the sort of…

    SB Nation
  • Mayweather called before Nevada boxing commission

    Once again, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has some explaining to do. Nevada boxing regulators have ordered Mayweather to appear before them next week to answer questions about scenes aired on the Showtime network prior to his fight Saturday night against Marcos Maidana. Specifically, they want to ask…

    The Associated Press
  • Spoiler, notes from TNA Impact tapings in Bethlehem, PA (September 16 & 18): Brodus Clay's new name, and a new champ!

    Spoiler, notes from TNA Impact tapings in Bethlehem, PA (September 16 & 18): Brodus Clay's new name, and a new champ! The latest round of tapings for Spike TV (for now)'s TNA Impact have been taking place this week in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  That not being, you know, New York City, reports on the…

    SB Nation
  • What's Your Definition of Success?

    Success means different things for different people, that’s why we’ve started “The Success Project”.

    AdChoicesstrayerSponsored
  • View

    Top NFL action - Week 3 (18 photos)

    Catch the week's best imagery from around the NFL. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems (14) runs against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson (29) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP

    Yahoo Sports
    Thu, Sep 18
    Tampa Bay14 - 56Atlanta
    Game Recap