Teammates notice Brewer's contributions

CLEVELAND -- Luol Deng might have scored the most points on Friday night, and Derrick Rose might have had the most assists and snagged the spotlight, but Carlos Boozer believes another one of his teammates stood out the most.

"Listen, the player of the game tonight was Ronnie Brewer," Boozer said. "Luol got us going offensively; without him it would have been an even tougher start, and then we picked it up on the offensive game. But the game changed in the second quarter when Ronnie just started being aggressive. He was like an octopus; everywhere, getting his hands on every loose ball. Steals, blocked shots, he was amazing defensively."

Brewer had 13 points and four rebounds off the bench and made several hustle plays that caught the eye of his teammates and coaches.

"Brew changed the game," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said. "With steals, huge steals, playing defense, knocking down his shot. [He] has a lot of confidence on his shot now. And we just need him to keep playing like that."

That's what Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to see from Brewer every night.

"Ronnie was terrific," Thibodeau said. "Ronnie has really played at a high level all year long. Whether it's been as a starter, bench guy, and in all areas. His defense, his offense, running the floor, making hustle plays. He came up with those steals. He's uncanny with just reading things. He's playing very well right now."

Thibs pleased with Hamilton: Rip Hamilton played 20 minutes on Friday and scored 10 points. He's slowly getting himself back into shape and Thibodeau is pleased that he is playing a few more minutes each night.

"The encouraging thing is after the back-to-back, he was feeling fine," Thibodeau said. "Even though he didn't make shots in San Antonio, I liked the looks that he got because I thought he didn't force anything. They were his shots, they didn't go in. He still helps you even when the ball's not going in because he's so unselfish. Today, he felt great in the shootaround. I thought he moved so well without the ball that it helps to create good opportunites for us. The poise that he plays with, he's hard to guard off the screens. He reads things extremely well. So we're encouraged by that."