Rapid Reaction: Bulls 106, Heat 102
How it happened: Playing without Derrick Rose (groin) and with backup point guard C.J. Watson hobbled by a bad ankle, John Lucas III came up huge for the Bulls. He scored 22 points and gave Chicago a huge lift down the stretch. Lucas played with no fear against LeBron James and that confidence permeated up and down the roster. Joakim Noah scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Ronnie Brewer added 12 points and six rebounds. Given the circumstances, this has to be one of the most satisfying wins of Tom Thibodeau's career. His bench played great and Lucas, the man he has always defended even when fans wondered why he was still on the roster, was a huge reason the Bulls were able to pull off the win.
What it means: This was the Merriam-Webster definition of a Thibodeau victory. The veteran coach prides himself on the notion that no matter who steps on the floor, his team will always have a chance to win if they defend and rebound. The Bulls did both of those things, and they did them without Rose, which makes the victory even more impressive. Without the reigning MVP, the Bulls proved yet again that they have the deepest bench in the league. Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Omer Asik all played well off the bench and gave Thibodeau even more confidence that he can use that group down the stretch in big games.
In the grand scheme of things, this game still doesn't mean much because the Bulls have to prove that they can beat the Heat in the playoffs. Still it will definitely make the Bulls, and Thibodeau, feel good about the culture they have created around this team. No matter who goes down on any given night, they always feel like they will come out on top.
Stat of the night: The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 50-34.
Bold play of the game: James switched onto Lucas as the final minutes ticked down in the fourth quarter and it didn't matter. Lucas continued to drive to the rim and score. His play ignited both the United Center crowd and his teammates throughout the night -- especially late in the fourth quarter when he knocked down two huge free throws with six seconds left that iced the Bulls' victory.
What's next: The Bulls take on the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night.