The long arms of Omer Asik played an important role in Thursday's overtime victory over Miami.
With a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, Asik came over to help on Dwyane Wade and forced a tough fadeaway corner jumper. The shot bounced off the front of the rim as Wade slid into Benny the Bull on the sideline.
In overtime, the play leading to Taj Gibson's monster dunk began with Asik blocking another Wade shot.
"The shot-blocking is huge," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "To have a 7-footer who can cover ground like he can, rebound in traffic. I think offensively, he's very underrated. He's an excellent screener. If he sets a screen for you, you're going to be open."
Asik finished with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 23 minutes. The defensive performance was enough to ask, "What if he were healthy for Games 4 and 5 of last year's conference finals?" The Bulls lost two close games and Asik was unavailable after suffering a broken left fibula in Game 3.
"I thought last year, at the end of the year, he was as good as anybody defensively," Thibodeau said. "This year, he started slowly and part of that was coming off injury from this summer.
"But I think his conditioning has picked up and he's feeling pretty good right now. He and Taj complement each other very well."
The 3-point foul:
Anytime a team ties a game with a late 3-point basket, the question is always asked -- why didn't the team with the lead foul?
"We felt we could defend it with our versatility of our defenders, but it was clearly a miscommunication and we will learn from it and get better in those situations," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game.
Starting with 11.4 seconds left, the Bulls threw the ball to Kyle Korver, who was swarmed by three Heat defenders. He got it to Carlos Boozer in the middle of the court, who found C.J. Watson on the opposite side. He pump-faked Dwyane Wade, took a dribble and canned the tying 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left.
"I was hopefully going to be a little more open when I came off the second screen, but that obviously that didn't happen," Korver said. "We were kind of in scramble mode, is what it was.
"When that happens, we talk all the time about spacing it out and try to find the open man. All I saw was black jerseys. I was totally swarmed."
To sit is no sweat:
Coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn't think twice about Derrick Rose's state of mind during Thursday's contest.
Rose, the reigning league MVP, had the unusual experience of sitting out for all but three minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime against Miami.
"If this were his first or second year, maybe you'd be more concerned with that," Thibodeau said. "But where Derrick is now as a player, he understands the situation. He's coming off an injury. He's a very confident guy.
"He'll get up to speed very quickly. The thing that you love about him, he was so happy we won and happy for his teammates, and that's who Derrick is."
Added Rose: "I don't care about my stats. I'm just trying to get my rhythm to get ready for the playoffs."
The Bulls play at Miami next Thursday, but could be close to wrapping up first place in the East before then. They lead the Heat by 3 games in the loss column with 7 left to play. The Bulls' next three games are against the Pistons, Wizards and Bobcats. … Kyle Korver on his 40-foot 3-point shot in overtime: "I was calling on my inner John Lucas on that shot. It didn't really feel that good, to be honest. But it was one of those nights, so I'll take it."