Bulls' subs provide decisive energy in 4th
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is not usually someone who goes by hunches. He sometimes will ride a hot hand, but he has his rotation, and it's one that worked to forge the NBA's best regular-season record.
But in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday, Thibodeau felt a vibe, or energy, produced by several of his bench players, and he rode it.
The result was a 95-83 victory that gave the Bulls a 3-2 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks.
"Our bench was great," Thibodeau said. "They got it going pretty good, so we stayed with them.
"It was the way the game unfolded, and then the matchups that we had. So it sort of forced our hand a little bit."
It was the Bulls' defense that clinched the win in the fourth, holding the Hawks to 15 points as Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik played the entire 12 minutes while Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Keith Bogans stayed on the bench.
Gibson and Derrick Rose each scored 11 fourth-quarter points.
"My teammates were looking for me," Gibson said. "I was playing with a lot of energy, and I was making some baskets.
"One thing about us is we play with a lot of energy and are a hard-nosed team."
Gibson said he felt the confidence of his teammates and fans.
"I have been playing basketball a long time, but tonight was special knowing my teammates were behind me, knowing the city of Chicago was behind me," he said.
Rose and Luol Deng played with the subs in the fourth, and Rose said the energy lift was the difference.
"I was kind of surprised [the subs played the entire fourth quarter]," Rose said, "but they brought a lot of energy. They really hustled and were blocking shots and rebounding.
"Taj is a good player. I don't think he knows how good he is. He's a good person. I was glad he was in there tonight, helping us out on the floor."