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Article updated: 5/5/2013 7:57 AM

Bulls prove they don't need Derrick Rose

By Mike Imrem

Derrick Rose?

The Bulls don't need no stinkin' Derrick Rose.

Playing without their superstar point guard, as usual, this remarkable group of battered basketball players advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs Saturday night.

Bucking the odds of playing a Game 7 on the road, the Bulls beat the Nets 99-93 in Brooklyn to clinch this first-round playoff.

Joakim Noah predicted his team would win the game in sort of a guarantee. Coach Tom Thibodeau routinely insists his team has more than enough to win.

Both were correct on this night.

"I just wanted our team to be confident and believe we could get it done," Noah said.

Yes, even on a day that started with ailing Luol Deng unable to play.

So, the Bulls had no chance, right?

The night started with injured Kirk Hinrich ruled out of the game.

So, the Bulls had no chance, right?

This season started with Rose not going to play at all.

So, the Bulls had no chance, right?

Yet here the Bulls are, preparing for Game 1 of an NBA East semifinal series against the heavily favored Miami Heat.

How in the world did these Bulls get this far?

Well, as has been chronicled all season, the Bulls out-hustle, out-will and out-resolve opponents.

But that story has been told so often that it became easy to overlook that the Bulls have another characteristic: They can play.

The Bulls didn't merely use grit, guts and gall to beat the Nets. They also used shooting, rebounding and defense.

"We had a lot of guys step up," Thibodeau said.

The Bulls almost always can rebound and defend but there also are some guys on this team who can play offense. Carlos Boozer, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson can score. Then in this Game 7, Noah surprised with 24 points on a variety of shots to go with 14 rebounds and 6 blocks.

Jimmy Butler did what he can do, which was play all 48 points and contribute a little of everything. Reserves who hardly ever play came in to make a play here and eat minutes there.

"That's been the story of the season," Thibodeau said. "We couldn't replace (Rose) individually; we had to do it collectively."

OK, now, next up is the Heat, the vaunted Heat, the defending NBA champion Heat.

This shouldn't be much of a series except that Miami probably would prefer to swim through a sea of sharks on the way to defecting to Cuba than to deal with the Bulls.

The Bulls will show up for Game 1 on Monday night at Miami. They might show up in ambulances and on crutches and in slings and hooked up to intravenous feedings, but they will show up.

The danger is that sooner or later the Bulls will start feeling the effects of all the minutes they played during the season and all the injuries they endured and all the adversity they overcame playing without Rose.

"We're going to have to be at our best from the start," Thibodeau said. "We know how good Miami is."

Again, the Bulls will play without their superstar point guard and the Heat series should be when they need them some stinkin' Derrick Rose.

Regardless, the Bulls already proved not only their mettle but that they have some guys who can play this game.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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