Really, words fail to express how much the Bulls have dominated over the past 48 hours, so we'll leave it to a single statistic: 73. That is Chicago's margin of victory over the past two nights, besting the franchise record of 68 points for back-to-back games set in 2005.
What more can be said about the way Derrick Rose and the Bulls have dominated their last 8 quarters of basketball? Rose was absolutely electric from the outset, scoring 30 points, 10 assists and hitting a career-high six three-pointers. And for the second night in a row, he sat for almost the entire fourth quarter. Deng had 27 points on 10-15 shooting in an abbreviated 33 minutes of floor time. The Bulls had 30 assists to the Hawks' 19, and dominated the glass, 40-26.
The Chicago bench blistered the Hawks for 37 points, and save for Atlanta reserve Jeff Teague, who should clearly be playing over former Bull Jamal Crawford, nearly ran the Hawks off the court. Rare as it may be to see a non-Rose highlight, C.J. Watson's spin move-to-reverse layup was spun gold and deserves air time:
That noise you are hearing is millions of Bulls fans cackling at once. Save for a few key injuries (that ended up being well-timed schedule-wise), every single development for the Bulls this season has been overwhelmingly positive. It would be one thing to have Derrick Rose have an MVP season, but to have Luol Deng become a consistent threat and the clear-cut team leader, to have Tom Thibodeau coach the league's best defense... and to have the players buy in, to have the Bulls bench unit become arguably the best in the league, to enjoy the development of Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, and Taj Gibson, it is almost beyond comprehension. Even holding pat at the trade deadline has worked out, as Asik's value has skyrocketed over the past month. If you know a Bulls fan, pinch them.
At the risk of throwing a bucket of cold water on what has been a two-day smilefest, tonight's win and Monday's victory over the Kings are just that: two wins. Both teams had been struggling before facing Chicago, and while the Bulls deserve all the credit in the world for dominating the games they are supposed to win, the big picture still looms large. With the Heat streaking and the Celtics holding serve, Chicago will need every victory it can muster over the next 12 games to capture the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls have the next two days off before facing the Grizzlies at the United Center on Friday and then heading to Milwaukee and the United Center North on Saturday night. After two nights of limited minutes for the starters and a few days to let bumps and bruises heal, the Bulls are perfectly set up for the stretch run.
Luol Deng was +39 while on the floor, one of the highest marks of the season. No wonder Thibodeau can't seem to keep him on the bench.
Over the past five games, the Bulls led the league in scoring and point differential, and ranked 4th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage. Who said these guys can't shoot?
Chicago's rebounding differential of +5.42 per game is far and away the best in the NBA, besting the 2nd place Orlando Magic by more than two rebounds.
As the Celtics were idle Tuesday night, the Bulls move back into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. Boston hosts the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks