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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Bulls 96, Spurs 89

By Nick Friedell



SAN ANTONIO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a hard-fought 96-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.

How it happened: Derrick Rose scored 29 points and carried the Bulls offensively at times as they pulled out one of their most impressive wins of the season. Joakim Noah had another solid performance, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while C.J. Watson added 12 points off the bench. The Bulls struggled to find an offensive rhythm most of the night against a solid Spurs defense, but Rose made plays when he had to -- hitting several big shots down the stretch.

What it means: The Bulls never stopped grinding away, even after giving up a 10-point lead in the third quarter. They weren't looking good offensively, but they kept their defensive poise and allowed Rose to take over down the stretch. The key in those final 12 minutes was that Rose finally got some help from the bench. Ronnie Brewer had eight huge points down the stretch, while Luol Deng knocked down a couple of critical shots, as well. The Bulls have struggled all year against good teams on the road, but not this time. Rose and Tom Thibodeau badly wanted to beat the Spurs and the Bulls pulled this one out by playing hard in the last few minutes. Given how intense this game was from beginning to end, Thibodeau has to be extremely proud of the way his team continued to battle throughout the night. Rose is going to have to get more help down the stretch against other top teams, but he got just enough in this one to push that discussion aside for another day.

Stat of the night: The Bulls are now 15-0 when leading at halftime on the road.

Bold play of the game: With the Bulls hanging onto a precarious three-point lead, Deng, who had been cold most of the night, stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer with 39.6 seconds left to play.

What's next: The Bulls have a day off Thursday before traveling to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. They'll be looking for their fifth win in a row.