Many people assumed that the Chicago Bulls would have little to no chance at making the playoffs after they decided to trade star forward Luol Deng to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum’s contract.
Those people may want to take a step back.
The Bulls won their 5th consecutive game on Saturday night with a 103-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, and they showed a tremendous amount of fight in achieving it. Chicago needed a 33-point explosion in the 4th quarter in order to achieve the 6-point win, but even the defense-first Bulls managed to generate that type of offense, and it was an across-the-board effort.
Seven members of Chicago’s roster scored in double-digits on the night and that also happened to be every player that saw more than 17 minutes of game action. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin led the team in scoring with 20 points (on 6-13 FG), but the Bulls were captained by their big men in this one. Joakim Noah put up a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double in 34 minutes while Carlos Boozer (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Taj Gibson (12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) provided more than enough support up front.
It’s a bit jarring to see Chicago win this type of game without a big-time defensive effort, but it does provide some optimism that the short-handed Bulls can win in more than one way. They certainly don’t have a ton of offensive talent without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, but with Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah still around, the Bulls will battle each and every night, and because of that, they are still very much in the playoff mix.