How it happened: Joakim Noah had a huge game, scoring 13 points, pulling down 18 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Jimmy Butler continued his solid play, this time off the bench, scoring a career-high 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Nate Robinson had another high-energy game off the bench, scoring 15 points, pulling down seven rebounds and swatting away three shots. Former Bull Ben Gordon had 16 points for the Bobcats, but it wasn't enough.
What it means: Tom Thibodeau isn't going to be pleased with the way his team closed this game out, but he has to be ecstatic at how Butler continues to improve. The second-year swingman gains confidence each time he's on the floor and has embraced being the 'energy guy' off the bench. After starting for Luol Deng for the past week, Butler went back to the bench and dominated the game when given the chance. Butler and Nate Robinson were the difference in the fourth quarter and gave Thibodeau the type of boost he's bench hoping to see from the bench. The Bulls knew they owed the Bobcats a game after losing at home on New Year's Eve -- but the improved play from the Bulls' bench is going to be sweeter for Thibodeau than any payback. If Butler continues to play like this, the veteran coach is going to have to find him more minutes.
Hits: Deng only had 10 points in his return, but was able to play 31 minutes after missing five straight games because of a right hamstring injury.
Misses: Rip Hamilton was just 1-for-5 from the field in 15 minutes of action.
Stat of the night: The Bulls bench outscored the Bobcats bench 45-29.
What's next: The Bulls take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.