RedEye

Boozer's chokes power Bulls' lottery bandwagon

You could look at the box score and see that Carlos Boozer was the only Bulls starter available, and you could think, hey, it’s only the pathetic Bucks and it’s in the United Center.

You could look at the box score and see that Boozer went for 21 and 12, and you could think he stepped up the way a veteran leader should on Tuesday night.

But if you watched the game, you saw that Boozer choked exactly the way you’d want a big-money player to choke aboard the “We’re Not Going To Tank’’ Bandwagon.

With the Bulls down by three in the final 95 seconds, Boozer grabbed a Tony Snell miss and managed to gag the putback.

With the Bulls still down by three in the final 10 seconds, Boozer took a pass from Kirk Hinrich and had it poked away in the paint.

And just to make sure, Boozer choked one last shot with a couple seconds to go and later was slapped with a delay-of-game technical foul. That’s a veteran move right there, people. It’s not easy to stave off victory against the worst team in the conference, but you have to take advantage of all the problems available.

The Bulls were without Derrick Rose, of course. His absence is the reason I revved up the “We’re Not Going To Tank’’ Bandwagon aimed at tanking a now-useless season so the Bulls land a lottery pick.

The Bulls also were without Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, who are suffering from injuries that luckily for the Bandwagon ruined any hope of quality defense. And Jimmy Butler remains hurt like the veteran he is becoming.

That left Boozer to avoid leading his team to victory, and fortunately the overpriced consolation prize to Chris Bosh was down to the task, missing 14 of 23 shots, having four of them blocked, and committing a team-high six turnovers.

The Bulls had to blow an 11-point lead built in the second quarter to do it, but they were able to gag to set up Boozer’s clutch failure.

This is the first time the Bulls have been three games under .500 under Tom Thibodeau. That shows you the quality of player and coaching the Bulls have had since Thibodeau replaced Vinny Del Negro.

Man, Vinny Del Negro. Moment of silence, please.  The “We’re Not Going To Tank’’ Bandwagon would kill to have Del Negro driving this thing into the lottery express lanes.

But no. We’re stuck with a coach who stresses defense and rebounding, which are enough to make the playoffs in a group so bad that I believe Jim Delaney is looking for a broadcast partner to show a Big Ten-Eastern Conference Challenge.

The only regret at this point has to be the Bulls’ untimely victory over the Heat. There was no reason for that. But it shows how physically bad and mentally weak this Bulls team is when it can lose to Cleveland and New Orleans, then beat the reigning champs, and then choke games to dregs from Detroit and Milwaukee.

We could be looking at an important five-game losing streak here, which is the kind of momentum a future lottery team needs.

It would be a killer end to the season if the Bulls make the playoffs by virtue of that one, stupid win over the Heat.

Can you imagine missing a chance on, I don't know, Jabari Parker because the Bulls decided they would try hard and be good in one game against a great team to show they weren’t dead without their best player?

Bad and stupid is no way to win the NBA title, but it is the key to a lottery ball.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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