Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler Help Chicago Bulls Escape New York Knicks

Aris Theotokatos@@NotRyan_GoslingCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2012

Knick fans collectively shake their heads any time Steve Novak does anything besides shoot a three
Knick fans collectively shake their heads any time Steve Novak does anything besides shoot a threeJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There are three things that stuck out in the Chicago Bulls game against the New York Knicks today. 

The first is the United Center speakers blaring Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” during a break in play.  I couldn’t figure out if the music was coming from the TV, or if my cell phone was going off (I’ll let you figure out if I’m joking). 

The second is Taj Gibson having his most complete offensive game of the season, and the third: Jimmy Butler, who has supplanted Michael Sweetney as my favorite Bull of all time.  

Just kidding.  I'm obligated as a Chicagoan to say Brian Scalabrine is the best player ever, otherwise I'll get banned from the city.

Let’s begin with Gibson’s 15 points and 13 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end. 

Aside from his horrendous 56 percent free throw shooting, a whole letter grade worse than last year (in an un-weighted class, of course), Gibson has been a key player coming off the bench for the Bulls. 

This is old news, but it feels good to type it out, and there’s no such thing as “too much praise” in Chicago.

These types of outbursts by Gibson have become more frequent over the past year and a half, and thus, expected, still worth mentioning.  What makes this performance atypical is a possession that lasted over a minute in which the Bulls grabbed four offensive rebounds, three by Taj Gibson. 

In a crucial moment of the game, where momentum was swinging back and forth like a pendulum, with each team trading scoring runs, the Bulls offense was struggling to put the ball in the hoop to stretch their lead.  Gibson saved the Bulls, giving them new life after new life like he was playing a game of Super Mario.

Still, the biggest play of the game, the play that swung the momentum pendulum in the Bulls' favor for the rest of the game, took place a possession earlier.

This brings us to the unsung (now, ironically sung) hero of the game: rookie Jimmy Butler.  Following a Kyle Korver dive-to-the-floor steal, Butler finished his version of the one-man fast break by spinning in a difficult lay-up while being fouled, resulting in a deafening roar from the crowd, the loudest since a Scalabrine sighting right before halftime.

Butler only finished with eight points, two rebounds, and a plus/minus of minus-one, but he made all the hustle plays, got a hand on all the loose balls, and contested every movement made by Carmelo Anthony

Seriously, even if Melo's chest extended a little too far out when he took a breath, Butler was there to make sure Anthony didn't get too comfortable.

Every Chicagoan and their grandmother has an opinion on how Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau should manage his rotation, but Thibs hasn't budged, sticking to his rotation.  Jimmy Butler’s recent contributions will only prompt more discussions by the fans and media alike. 

It’s going to be difficult for Butler to get a significant piece of the minute pie on a healthy Bulls squad, but he’s doing what all real men do: licking the piece he can get his hands on, smearing his saliva all up, down and around it, and claiming it as his own.