There was more than one unique thing to focus on during the 128-125 win by the Chicago Bulls against the Orlando Magic in triple overtime. Some of it was the clutch shooting by Mike Dunleavy, Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Tony Snell; however, Jimmy Butler playing 60 minutes defies logic and stands out more than anything else.
Butler is only the 12th player since 1987 to play 60 minutes or more in an NBA game, and the first since DeMar DeRozan did it for the Raptors early last season. He finished with 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting. His +8 during his time on the floor suggests that the Bulls were awful during the three minutes he wasn’t playing.
A game that had everything, and especially packed to capacity in the drama area. Jameer Nelson sent the game to overtime with a step back jumper while Joakim Noah was guarding him. Mike Dunleavy hit a clutch three pointer in the first overtime to tie things at 111-111. This led to a final possession for the Magic; Nelson vs Noah again. Noah did a great job to stop Nelson, who did hit a big three, but only after time had expired.
Second overtime? More big shooting, this time Glen Davis of all people with a long three that gave us a third overtime. Tony Snell (of all people 2.0) put the Bulls up 126-125 with seconds left. Glen Davis went again for the 3-pointer and came up short. The Bulls came up with the rebound, winning the game.
Joakim Noah (49 minutes) was probably the best player on the floor for the Bulls. The defense that doesn’t really get into the box scores, but also 26 points, 19 rebounds and six assists. It’s hard to put a finger on what Chicago Bulls basketball is in its current form, without Derrick Rose or Luol Deng (who won’t be back as well), but Noah is probably the face, mind and heart of it.
The only thing it defines is us going on a plane right now a lot happier. There’s nothing better than winning a basketball game. It feels good. We know we didn’t play great basketball tonight but we found a way. We came back from the dead, a lot of people stepped up.
Defense, heart, intelligence. Those are the words getting thrown around when trying to describe these Bulls, who also got 23 points from Carlos Boozer and 19 from D.J. Augustin off the bench. Tom Thibodeau masterminds the whole thing, which might be labeled as a tank job, but the Chicago Bulls’ players refuse to make it look like one, improving to 18-19 this season.
We’re grimy and we play as a team. There is no guy that doesn’t give all the effort on every single play. Whenever you play like that, good things happen. The basketball gods will reward you.
All the focus in such a game goes to the Bulls, but Victor Oladipo played 57 minutes, scoring 35 points. Jameer Nelson played 54 minutes and added 31 points. But it was also about the guys who didn’t play: Arron Afflalo, and maybe even more importantly, Nikola Vucevic, who the Magic are now 0-11 this season when he doesn’t play.