The Charlotte game can finally be put to rest.
Buried deep in the ground, only to be whispered about as a warning to what this Bulls team can look like when they don’t care.
Rock bottom, a teaching moment, call what happened against the Hornets what you want. Jimmy Butler simply called it “in the past,’’ and then made sure of it Thursday night.
Thanks to Butler’s 21 points in the first half, and then Derrick Rose playing hero ball in the fourth, the Bulls beat the high-powered Oklahoma City Thunder, 104-98, at the United Center.
A much different look than losing to Charlotte by 25 and allowing 130 points just 48 hours earlier.
“It shows those guys care,’’ first-year coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s a bunch of competitive guys in that locker room that all felt a little embarrassed maybe on how they played in the last game.’’
Maybe no one as much as Rose, who for the first time in his career failed to score in double-digits in three-straight games. There wouldn’t be a fourth.
Rose was a magician in the final minutes of the Thunder game, scoring 12 of his team-high 29 points in that final stanza, and not just at the rim. The jump shot that had been in hiding following Sept. 30 surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone was alive and well, as Rose finally seemed to have some of his swagger back.
“Just getting reps up,’’ Rose said of the performance. “After I got hit [in the eye area], I had two weeks to not do anything. I couldn’t get my blood pressure up, so anyone that hasn’t gone through it, like you have to just sit in the house all day. You can’t argue, you can’t do anything. You just have to chill. Like no ab work, I couldn’t work out.
“Then you come from there. I played in the last preseason game. We’ve played in five or six games now, and it’s all about rhythm. Getting my timing. I’m just blessed I have the teammates that I have, they allow me to play the way I normally play.’’
Easy to do when Rose is feeling it like that.
“[Rose is] a hell of a player,’’ Butler said. “He carried us. That’s what leaders do, that’s what MVPs do. You wanted a show tonight and you got it.’’
Bulls fans certainly did. Those that tuned in to supposedly watch the duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant put a whooping on the sinking Bulls? Well, they were highly disappointed. Westbrook and Durant were good, combining for 53 points, but Butler and Rose were better.
“I mean it’s fun,’’ Rose said of competing against the two MVP candidates. “Right after we lost to Charlotte, they asked me the question. I said it should be exciting. When you play against great talent like that it makes you play great. If anything it helps your confidence, and I need all the confidence I can get right now.’’
Just as impressive as the 29 points for Rose was the seven assists and just two turnovers.
“To go out and have that type of performance was huge for us, huge for him, huge for our team,’’ Hoiberg said. “It should be great for Derrick’s confidence.’’