The Bulls did plenty of things well Thursday night against Boston. Ball movement, defense, Joakim Noah's near miss on a triple-double.
But inside the locker room, following the 94-82 victory over the Celtics, the conversation most often focused on Mike Dunleavy's anger.
The normally mild-mannered Dunleavy got a technical foul late in the third quarter and nearly got himself tossed a few minutes later. But he also helped spark the game's decisive run with a monster block, a buzzer-beating putback, then a pullup 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter that sent the Bulls ahead 77-62.
"When he got mad, that was one of the funniest things of the year," teammate Taj Gibson said. "He really bodied up the ref, iced him, stared him down -- whatever you want to call it. Just stared him down for a while and just went off.
"After that (technical foul), he just went ballistic -- defense, shooting the ball, handling the ball, coming up and knocking down big 3s. He was really mad and he was talking trash at the same time. It was great to see."
Dunleavy finished with a modest 11 points, 2 blocks and 2 steals, but they came at a good time. The Bulls (13-18) won for the fourth time in their last six games.
"As Taj knows, that's my New York state of mind," Dunleavy said with a laugh. "Sometimes, you've got to let people know when they're messing up -- teammates, coaches, officials. For me, it doesn't happen very often. Tonight it did. I knew Taj would be the first one to let me know about it."
Dunleavy said he's usually good for 1 or 2 technical fouls per season, so this one wasn't completely out of character.
"Every once in awhile, you'll see that from me," he said. "I think it got me going a little bit. Sometimes when you get your blood boiling like that, it's good to get things of your chest. Then you settle back in and play well."
The star of the game for the Bulls was Noah, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. His teammates tried to get him another assist to complete the triple-double, but in the waning moments Kirk Hinrich threw a reverse layup off the bottom of the rim and Jimmy Butler missed a corner jumper.
But Noah's effort was indicative of the Bulls' ball movement. After finishing with 16 assists and 79 points in Tuesday's loss to Toronto, the Bulls boosted their assist total to 26 against Boston, and the solid passing led to better looks at the basket.
Gibson was thanking his lucky stars after the game for surviving a hard fall in the fourth quarter. Going up for a baseline dunk, Gibson was leveled by Boston's Jared Sullinger, who was given a grade one flagrant foul. After a few minutes on the ground, Gibson (12 points) stayed in the game.
"I'm lucky. The basketball gods are on my side because it could have been worse. I fell on my wrist and my elbow," Gibson said. "I just laid there and I remember guys telling me, '10 count, stay down.' And I heard (coach Tom Thibodeau's) deep voice. His voice is real unique and his laugh is real unique as well.
"So when I heard him laugh, I just laid there. I'm just glad we got the win."