When the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons played at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 15th, Chicago was looking to extend its winning streak to 15 games against the team from the Motor City. To their credit, the Bulls were ahead for most of the game, but found themselves down late in the fourth quarter. To be honest, I thought the Bulls were about to lose this game until Rodney Stuckey missed two of his four three throw attempts that would have sealed the deal for Detroit.
Much like the game against the Heat a few nights ago, Chicago trailed by three points in the waning seconds of regulation and needed a basket from long range to send the game into overtime. C.J. Watson hit the game-tying basket against the Heat, but this time, Derrick Rose would do the honors. After producing just 37 points in the second half, we finally regained our offensive rhythm in the extra period, outscoring the Pistons 14-8, en route to a 100-94 victory. Here are my standout players from this game.
Derrick Rose (24 points, nine assists) was hampered with a sore ankle against the Heat, missing on 12 of his 13 shot attempts, totaling just two points for the entire game. Well for those of us who may have doubted the ankle as the reason for his miscues, Rose showed some of his trademark explosiveness against the Pistons that separates him from the rest of the players at his position. While he did not have a great night shooting the ball (9-for-22), his ability to get to the rim made him a focal point of the Pistons' defense for most of the evening. When that happens, it makes the game a bit easier for the rest of the team. Despite the good game, I would like to see the turnover number come down a bit as he committed seven of the team's 19.
Joakim Noah, who had been struggling as of late, had a huge game with 20 points to go along with 17 rebounds (13 offensive), including two baskets in the extra session. Also, with the Bulls nursing a slim lead in OT, Noah found a wide-open Kyle Korver on the right wing for a three-pointer, that helped give us the breathing room needed to eventually pull out the victory. I've said it many times before and I will say it again. When Noah is this active on the glass, we are one of the most difficult teams in the league to beat.
With upcoming games against the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats, Tom Thibodeau should consider monitoring the number of minutes being logged by his key starters - Rose, Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton. While it is important for them to get playing time together on the floor with only six games left in the season, it is also important to have them as healthy as possible with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
James Tillman is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has been a Bulls fan since the 1987-1988 season. James is also a fan blogger on Yahoo Sports and a sports contributor for Sports Rantz magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @jtillman9693 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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"Bloodied, bruised and clutch", Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times