Rapid Reaction: Bulls 96, Heat 86 (OT)

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
10:22
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a 96-86 overtime win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night at the United Center:

How it happened: C.J. Watson had one of his most impressive games as a Bull, scoring 16 points with nine assists in place of an ineffective Derrick Rose. The Bulls' Bench Mob is the reason they won. Taj Gibson had 11 points with five rebounds, and Kyle Korver added 17 points. Carlos Boozer set the early tone, and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

What it means: The Bulls' Bench Mob deserves all the credit in this one, but the main storyline will be Rose's struggles. After sitting out Tuesday night's game because of an ankle injury, Rose came back and looked very rusty. In one of the worst games of his career, Rose went 1-for-13 from the field and scored just two points. Obviously, Rose has to get back in rhythm, given he missed most of March because of a groin injury, but it looks like he is still struggling with both injuries. He was very frustrated throughout the game and on the bench. Coach Tom Thibodeau made the right decision to stick with Watson down the stretch. In almost every other case, Rose should be on the floor, but Watson had the hot hand and Rose was so ice cold that he made the decision easier for his coach.

Aside from Rose's struggles, the Bulls have to feel great about pulling out a win in this one. They basically did it without an effective Rose and Joakim Noah, who came out midway through the third quarter and didn't return until the end of overtime when Gibson fouled out. The Bulls' defense stepped up when it had to, and shut down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in overtime. The Heat thought they had stolen one, but the Bulls pulled it right back in the end. In the process, they all but locked up the No. 1 seed in the East. They are up three games in the loss column with seven to play.

Stat of the night: The Bulls' bench outscored the Heat's bench 47-7.

Bold play of the game: With his team trailing by three late, Watson knocked down a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

What's next: The Bulls have a day off Friday before taking on the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5