Derrick Rose went through his paces before Tuesday night's rematch against the New York Knicks and tried to get himself ready to play. But after his pre-game workout, which consisted of shooting and lateral movement to test his injured right ankle, Rose was a late scratch and listed as inactive for last night's game.
D. Rose sitting out his 23rd contest of the season proved to be of no consequence as the rest of the Bulls took the floor and avenged their Easter Sunday loss, beating New York 98-86.
How did Chicago do it? Let's take a look:
Rip Hamilton Steps Up
Hamilton has struggled all season long, whether due to injury or a total lack of offensive production. So it goes without saying that Rip has been a major disappointment thus far. But last night he got his much needed “breakout” game, even though it didn't look that way at first. Hamilton scored just 2 points in the first 24 minutes of regulation and it seemed that he was on his way to another lackluster performance. Things turned around in the 3rd quarter. Hamilton exploded, scoring 18 points and looking like the player we were used to seeing in Detroit. Hopefully his play against New York carries over for the remaining eight regular season games and into the Playoffs.
The Bench Mob Plays Hard
Chicago's beloved second unit came up big the entire game, starting in the 2nd quarter when they erased the Knicks' slim 3-point margin after the 1st quarter and propelled the Bulls on a 14-2 run. Their intensity on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball was ratcheted all the way, and it proved too much for New York to handle. Kyle Korver led the way for the Bulls reserves with 14 points. He shot lights out, making 5 of his 8 shots, 3 of which came from behind the arc. The Bulls bench also outscored the Knicks reserves, 33-18.
Chicago's Work on the Glass
The Bulls are the best rebounding team in the league and it showed. They out-rebounded New York to the tune of 51-33 and pummeled them on the offensive glass, 18-5. Their 33 defensive rebounds equaled New York's entire output. Chicago won't lose many games with rebounding margins like that.
Chicago gave themselves some more breathing room in the race to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with the victory over New York. The Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat on the road last night, giving the Bulls a three-game lead in the standings. Chicago has just eight regular season contests left and Miami has 10.