Looking back at Bulls' late-game opportunity

Looking back at Bulls' late-game opportunity

Posted by mikemcgraw on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 02:08
Looking back at a frustrating Game 4 loss for the Bulls, it’s tough to ignore that final possession of the fourth quarter, when they had the ball with eight seconds left in a tie game. This moment might end up deciding the series. Hanging in the balance was the Bulls coming home with momentum or falling behind 3-1. They went with a Derrick Rose isolation against LeBron James. He launched a step-back 20-foot that fell short of the rim and the Bulls went on to lose in overtime. In my eyes, this was no time to fade away from the basket. The Bulls played a great game for most of four quarters and deserved to go for broke. Rose trying to shake free of a player as athletic as James, who is also five inches taller, doesn’t seem like a great idea in hindsight. The Bulls knew it was coming, because the same thing happened on the previous possession. Rose shot a slightly closer step-back jumper that rolled around the rim and out with 29 seconds left. With a second chance, why not set a screen just to get Miami’s defense shifting and maybe get James off of Rose. With James on Rose, Luol Deng should have had a better defensive matchup. Getting Rose on the move, then curling Deng for a spot-up jumper would have been an interesting choice. After everything that happened on Tuesday, the Bulls had a chance to pull out a clutch win in hostile territory and let it slip away. FOUL THINKING The other talking point from Game 4 was the seemingly one-sided officiating. The free throw count had been relatively even for three games (68-67 Miami, to be exact). So why did the Heat suddenly jump to a 38-22 advantage in free-throw attempts on Tuesday? Was it because Miami attacked the basket more? They didn’t. The Bulls dominated points in the paint 44-24. Late in the third quarter, the Bulls led points in the paint 36-10 and trailed in free throws 23-8. The Power Trio just seemed to get the benefit of the doubt more often than not. A Heat player flops to the floor, foul. A Miami star draws contact near the basket, foul. The Bulls drew plenty of contact around the basket and often didn’t get the call. The flagrant foul on Carlos Boozer with 4:40 left was debatable, but didn’t appear to be a no-doubt flagrant call. Especially after what the Bulls endured in the Indiana series. Don’t forget, there’s a precedent in Bulls playoff history for a blood-drawing smack in the mouth not being ruled flagrant. Boozer got his forearm into Chris Bosh on an attempt to stop a drive to the basket. Miami turned it into a 4-point possession and a 1-point lead. Again, after all that, the Bulls had more than one chance to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. You’ve got to make your own breaks and they didn’t convert.
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