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Bulls shut down Crawford, Johnson

ATLANTA -- How can the Bulls go from allowing Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to combine for 56 points in Game 1 to just two points combined in the second half of Game 3?

The answer is simple as far as Tom Thibodeau and his players are concerned. They're starting to play the type of defense that made them so good throughout the regular season.

"I think the edge was there," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "The word that you guys love to use. It was there tonight. Defensively, we had a lot of energy, guys coming in just playing hard."

What will surely get lost in the glare of Derrick Rose's 44-point game is the fact that Deng, Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer, among others, played sharp defense throughout the night.

"I thought our defense was great tonight," Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. "After the first game, when Johnson and Crawford went off on us, it showed us how good we have to be on defense. Even in that game, we were there, they just hit a lot of great shots. They're the type of guys that, once they hit a couple, they can just really get it going. I think we've done a great job of loading up to them, of taking away their strengths, of making other guys take shots that maybe they don't really want to take. And we're going to have to keep doing that."

No extra motivation: Much was made about Crawford's comments after Game 2, in which he said, "If that's their best shot, we're in good shape," but the Bulls didn't seem too concerned about them -- before or after Friday night's game.

"We're not really worried about what anybody else says," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "We're not worried about what the media says. We're just focused on our locker room and what we think of each other and what our coaches think. If we stick together through good times and through hard times, we feel like we'll have a better chance at this thing."

The Toe Show: Carlos Boozer only scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 22 minutes of action on Friday night, fueling even more speculation that he should sit down -- but the veteran forward continues to say his toe doesn't feel any worse than it did before and he should remain on the court.

"It's about the same," he said after the game. "Just playing through it. Don't worry about my toe, I'm OK. We just care about winning, that's all we want to do."

The last word: "Thibs has preached one game at a time. We are brain-washed. One. Game. At. A. Time. One. Game ... We were in here just focused on Game 3. We did what what we had to do to win. Obviously we had to come back here and get at least one. But we'd like to get both. And now that's we've got Game 3, we can think about Game 4," -Korver, on his team's mindset heading into Game 4.