After a second consecutive thrilling overtime victory on the road, this time without star wing Luol Deng for most of the game, the message is clear.
The Bulls are sweat-encrusted-coal-miner-sock tough. Period.
Chicago's (23-15) triumph at the historic, parque-floored Boston Garden marked their 12th win going away this season. At 12-5, Coach Thibodeau's boys have the best record on the road in the East and are only a half game back of the L.A. Clippers for best in the League.
Carlos Boozer continued cruising, this time with 19 points and a season high 20 rebounds. The big man's double-double was his 10th in 11 games, pushing his total to 22 on the season, good for 4th overall in the NBA.
Joakim Noah checked in with a hard hat double-double, 14 points, 13 boards while adding 4 key assists.
Rip Hamilton poured in 20 points, while Bench Mob 2.0ers Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler all scored double figures.
The biggest takeaway was how the team just would not cave despite being down with the pressure mounting and the clock ticking away at several critical junctures.
Kirk Hinrich hit a mid-range jump shot after the ball had squirted away from Belinelli in the lane to send the game to overtime.
Two cold-blooded shots by Jason "The Jet" Terry put Boston ahead, the second of which had Chicago down 1 with the clock ticking down. With no timeouts, Belinelli took the ball coast-to-coast and hit an incredible shot fading to the floor in the middle of the paint. A prayer 3-pt attempt by Courtney Lee was not answered and the Bulls won 100-99.
Noah made both of those shots possible with his clutch play down the stretch.
First, with the game seemingly out of reach in the 4th Noah forced a jump ball against Paul Pierce on the wing with the clock winding down and the C's up two, proceeding to win the tip.
In overtime, Noah made an excellent read, dribbling the ball across the top of the free throw line and lobbing a perfect pass over a fronting Celtics defender to Butler that the Marquette wing then finished skillfully off the glass. If those crucial but unsung plays weren't made, Hinrich and Belinelli's late game heroics wouldn't have been possible.
News and Dunks: Long time chums, (sarcasm implied) Kevin Garnett and Noah were getting after it all game, culminated in both earning a 2nd half double-technical. The T was Noah's 8th on the season, giving him the dubious honor of being tied for 2nd overall in the NBA.
"He's a helluva competitor. He's always on some bulls*#t, trying to throw elbows, cheap shots, trying to get you off your game."
Noah told the Chicago Tribune's K.C Johnson following the game.
When we lose, I feel like he crosses the line. But since we've been beating their asses, I'm cool with it." Noah added for good measure
Luol Deng will likely sit out tomorrow's game at the United Center against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I tried to take off and as soon as I pushed off, I felt a pull. Deng explained to Johnson after the game. It's swollen and painful." Deng also said his chances of playing against the Grizzlies "are low."
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