Don't look now, but the NBA may have a new "Big Three" on its hands in Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol.

One of the main questions heading into the 2015-16 NBA season was: Who's going to compete with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference? Well, it appears the Bulls have answered the call.

MORE: Classic photos of Derrick Rose | Kobe joins Kareem, Malone in 33K-point club

In beating the Celtics 101-92 at home Thursday, Chicago earned its sixth straight win and seventh in its last eight games. But the most important piece of information is the current form of Rose. 

After missing three games with soreness in his right knee and hamstring, Rose has averaged 17 points and 4.5 assists in his last two games back, and has played at least 34 minutes in each. He still might not be at the level that won him an MVP after the 2010-11 season, but Rose could lead Chicago on a deep playoff run if he stays healthy.

Yet, the team is no longer solely in Rose's hands. Butler has emerged as one of the premier players in the league, and ageless Gasol recorded his 19th double-double of the season Thursday.

MORE: Butler wants no part of 'best shooting guard' discussion

If the Bulls can continue to get above-average contributions from small forward Nikola Mirotic and power forward Taj Gibson, they could give Cleveland a run for its money in the postseason.


Get used to seeing this: Ish Smith to Nerlens Noel:

Who says ball movement is dead in the NBA? 

Derrick Rose is beginning to look like his MVP self with drives like this into the paint:

Stud of the Night

It wasn't a perfect night, but James Harden looked more like an MVP runner-up in Thursday's 103-94 win against the Jazz. Despite missing all seven of his 3-point attempts, Harden still scored 33 points on 13-of-25 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. He's averaging 28.1 points per game despite shooting just under 42 percent from the field. Houston remains in playoff contention, but it needs more nights like this out of the superstar.

Dud of the Night

Lakers center Roy Hibbert once again was nowhere to be found. After drawing the start against the Kings, he scored zero points on 0-for-1 shooting and committed five fouls in just over 11 minutes of playing time. Hibbert was of little help as LA, led by D'Angelo Russell (career-high 27 points), made a massive comeback in the fourth quarter that ultimately came up short. The Lakers should give up on the Hibbert project and just stick to their more effective smaller lineup. 

What's next (all times Eastern)

Knicks (18-19) at Spurs (31-6), 8:30 p.m.: Carmelo Anthony,

Arron Afflalo and Kristaps Porzingis head to San Antonio to take on the dominant Spurs. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge have turned into a dynamic two-way forward duo.

Warriors (33-2) at Trail Blazers (15-23), 10 p.m.: Stephen Curry (shin) is still banged up, but Draymond Green has cemented his status as one of the game's best players in his absence. Portland star Damian Lillard is battling injuries himself, but C.J. McCollum has stepped up in a big way.