A loss for San Antonio would prevent them from beating the NBA single season Win-Loss record, set by the Bulls in 1996. Not that the Spurs are on pace to do so, but these are numbers we keep our eye on throughout the season.
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Bulls remain #1 in the league in defense, with San Antonio ranked #6, as well as holding the best road record this season(21-7).
In the first matchup this season, Tony Parker just learned that Eva Longoria was filing for a divorce and he played like it to start the game, only to finish strong, with the Spurs winning 103 to 94.
Reminiscence of a time when the Bulls were giving up games in the 3rd quarter, the Bulls have come a ways since the first meeting. When asked at practice on Wednesday, Derrick Rose stated, “This is really going to have to be a 48 minute game, where they’re playing great basketball right now and we’re just going to have to ball out.”
Carlos Boozer attacked DeJuan Blair in the first period, drawing contact and quickly sending him to the bench. The Bulls managed to take momentum mid 1st quarter, lead by Derrick Rose’s 11 pints and 3 assists. Taj Gibson checked in to close an open gap for veteran guards Parker and Ginobili, allowing the Bulls to control the pace. Bulls up after 1, 30-25.
With Rose resting on the bench to start the 2nd, Watson immediately came into the double-teams and traps that Rose was facing earlier. He forced the ball into defenders with little luck against the Spurs defense, surrendering the Bulls lead midway in the period. Boozer and Rose came back in with the same game plan, as we saw in the first. Rose was hot near the end of the period to add another 10 points to his total. Former Bulls 2nd round draft choice, Matt Bonner came into the game along with George Hill to give San Antonio a 3 point shooting offense. The Bulls quickly picked up on Bonner, who leads the league in 3pt%, and quickly closed in on his looks. The Bulls increased their lead at halftime to 7, 58-51.
After both teams adjusted their play calling, the Spurs finally looked to Tim Duncan. Tim scored on 4 consecutive plays to go along with his 14pts, 9rbs to cut into the Bulls lead and bring San Antonio within 2. The Bulls made the most of second chance opportunities, along with consistent scoring from Rose to finish the quarter strong. 83-75.
San Antonio could not figure out the Bulls with less than 5 minutes left in the game. Both teams started to relax on defense, with only Manu Ginobili giving it his all, in an effort to salvage the game. Rose snuck basket in after basket, to give him a career high 42 points.
The Bulls win 109 to 99.
Derrick Rose finished with 42 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.