With just over three minutes left and a 14 point advantage reduced to 2, Derrick Rose made the kind of play that has defined his season. The MVP candidate stepped into the passing lane, picked off an errant Deron Williams pass and blurred his way to a coast-to-coast layup. That was as close as the Nets would ever get.
Beyond Rose's line of 21 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, which was impressive given the plodding pace of the game, is his ability to stop opposing runs and to close out games. It is uncanny, and one of the main reasons the Bulls have soared to the top of the Eastern Conference this season. With the win, the Bulls win streak moves to 8 straight games, their longest stretch of W's since 2005
Omer Asik bounced back from a sub-par performance against the Wizards to record his first career double-double, with 11 points and 16 rebounds, 9 of them offensive. Asik is still learning the NBA game, but if he ever figures out how to catch an interior pass, there could be a lot of double-doubles in his future.
Cool Hand Luol Deng once again filled the gaps that needed filling for Chicago, notching 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. In his return from the flu, Joakim Noah played a crucial role as a distributor when the Nets employed a trapping defense to get the ball out of Rose's hands. Noah finished with 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
With the win, the Bulls move back into sole possession of first place in the Eastern conference. Chicago is now one win away from its first 50-win season since His Airness donned the red and black. Impressive as tonight's win was against the Nets (or the Nyets if you like, as Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns the team), the Bulls will need to move on quickly as they head to Indianapolis to face a Pacers team that has shown improvement under interim coach Frank Vogel.
- The Nets are the 12th opponent the Bulls have held under 80 points this season. The franchise record is 13 opponents set in the '97-98 season.
- The battle of the point guard elite certainly didn't show up in the box score: Rose went 8-23 from the field, while Deron Williams went 1-12.
- The Bulls outscored the Nets in the paint 46-22.
- On his birthday, Kyle Korver finished with 12 points and his 999th career three-pointer.
Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks