- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose scored 32 points and made several jaw-dropping plays in the Chicago Bulls' 104-99 win over the New York Knicks on Monday, but he believes that it was another pair of teammates who really changed the game on Monday night -- Taj Gibson and rookie Jimmy Butler.
"They're the reason why we won this game," Rose said.
Gibson played his best game of the season against the Knicks, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, while Butler may have played the best game of his young career. The Marquette alum played 29 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing two rebounds, much to the delight of his teammates.
"Jimmy was great," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "Great energy as well. We really needed his energy. There was a lot of loose balls out there that he got to for us. Those are things you might not see in a stat line, but he affected the game tonight and I'm proud of the rookie."
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was proud of both men, but he noted just how important Gibson's play was throughout the game. The third-year forward racked up eight offensive rebounds and continually kept possessions alive. Gibson's performance is one of the biggest reasons why the Bulls were able to create such a huge advantage on the glass. They outrebounded the Knicks 56-38.
"I thought our rebounding was outstanding," Thibodeau said. "Taj was great. I thought the second shots he got us in the second half was the difference in the game."
As usual, the mild-mannered Gibson tried to take his production in stride.
"Whatever I can do to help the team," he said. "When I can get the ball in Derrick's hands or Kyle [Korver]'s hands for an extra possession, knowing that it's going to be a real high-class shot, I'm there. I'm just happy to help the team get any kind of energy possible. That's my job; come in, bring energy, try to make small plays into big plays and just be all over the court. That's my job."
Gibson admitted that it was a piece of advice from Thibodeau that helped propel him on this night. He knows he may not always be able to help offensively, but he will always be able to affect the game in different areas.
"Like Thibs always says, you give yourself a chance to win when you defend and rebound," Gibson said. "We're a good rebounding team and that's what we capitalize on. We try to get every 50/50 ball and just play with a lot of energy. No matter what. It just worked our way."
Noah on the Heat: The Bulls' players are all looking forward to playing the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, but good luck trying to get them to say something that LeBron James and his teammates can use as bulletin-board material.
"It's going to be an exciting game," Noah said. "The people in Chicago are excited and we're very excited and it's going to be competitive. What else can I tell you?"
The last word: Rose, on his reaction after a thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter.
"I kind of like blacked out right there, where I'll probably have to see it to go through it again, to tell you how I felt. I probably was mad because they weren't calling no calls the whole game."
12hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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