The Chicago Bulls (17-13) had to play the Orlando Magic (12-20) without Joakim Noah at their disposal on Wednesday night, but Taj Gibson stepped in and provided a big boost as the Bulls emerged with a 96-94 road win. Gibson played a game-high 45 minutes and posted 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Bulls escaped the Amway Center with a victory.
Gibson played perhaps his best game of the season on Wednesday night, as he converted 8 of 12 shots from the field, added six free-throw attempts, snatched five offensive rebounds and blocked four shots on key defensive stands throughout the night. He also helped to limit the Magic to just 32 points in the paint (16-29 FGs), while saving 10 of his points for the second half as Chicago held off Orlando despite a 23-14 surge from the Magic in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Tom Thibodeau had some choice words to describe Gibson's performance (via ESPN Chicago):
"Huge," Thibodeau said of Gibson's performance. "Huge. (He) played big minutes, battled, played the five all night, just did a great job in all areas. Blocked shots, rebounding, scoring, executing. (He) played a great game. He's been playing very well as of late too so he's starting to get into a pretty good rhythm. And I thought Carlos was terrific. That set the tone for us, he had a huge fourth quarter. And then Luol was Luol. His usual little bit of everything. Plays tough. We got a lot of production from our starters, it was very good."
After a slow start to the 2012-13 NBA season, Gibson has pushed his production back toward his career marks. He's always good at doing the little things like rotating on defense and closing off angles for opposing guards, but his offense appears to be turning the corner now as well. Over the past five games, Gibson is shooting 50.0 percent from the field (19-38 FGs) while grabbing 6.4 rebounds and scoring 9.6 points per contest.