12:12 AM CDT, May 27, 2011
Now the Bulls know what great looks like when great is required.
The Bulls put together a great regular season. They played hard every game. They played good or great a majority of those nights.
But great matters in the playoffs.
Great matters in the fourth quarter of the playoffs.
Great is what Miami’s superstars unleashed on the Bulls, devastating them at the end of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Oh yeah, on the Bulls’ floor, no less. Great does that, too.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sucked up some bad shooting over the first three quarters and gave the Heat great when it mattered. They poured in 22 of Miami’s 26 points in the final period. They combined for 16 in a staggering 18-3 run down the stretch. They wiped out a 12-point Bulls lead with less than four minutes to go.
It was mind-boggling. The best defensive team in the NBA couldn’t stop the best player in the league and his buddy who recruited his talents to South Beach.
It was shocking. Everybody knew that one of two players would get the ball, and they still got it, and they assassinated the Bulls.
It was stunning. James and Wade didn’t miss a shot in the last five minutes, the last five minutes of a season in which the Bulls suddenly turned into the Cubs.
The Bulls collapsed. The Heat made them. That’s what great does.
By the time the Heat were done with the vivisection, Derrick Rose had missed a free throw with his team down by one point, and then had a desperation three-point attempt swatted by James. An unfortunately fitting end to the way Rose ended games in this series.
The Bulls’ lone superstar missed 5 of 7 shots in the final period, making only one basket in the last 11:30. Rose committed two turnovers. He handed out one assist, one fewer than Kurt Thomas and Luol Deng each managed. When you look at Rose’s last four fourth quarters and overtime, the NBA’s MVP fell apart, hitting only 4 of 21 shots from the floor.
Rose will learn from this. Question is, will Bulls management learn from this? Will Bulls management learn that Rose needs a lot more offensive help?
Bulls management had to know what the problem was, but just in case, the Heat exposed it.
Luol Deng scored 18, which would’ve been nice if he was the third in a Bulls’ “Big Three.’’ The guy who should’ve trailed Rose in scoring is Carlos Boozer. Problem was, he trailed Ronnie Brewer.
Boozer contributed five points on 1-of-6 shooting, stinking it up to the end of a largely miserable postseason. He managed only six rebounds, and worse, seemed to jump highest when he was committing a flagrant foul for the second straight game.
The Bulls thought $80 million would buy them a No. 2 scoring option. Instead, it bought them Jack Haley.
Brewer’s 10 points and five each from Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans produced 20 points from the off-guard spot, but the reality is, nobody on the roster besides Rose can create his own shot.
Don’t look any farther than that. James and Wade can get their own shots, and can get them when it matters. In the fourth quarter. On anyone’s floor. They had to do it against a good Bulls’ team in Game 5 and in this series, and they did.
Great met good. It was all you can eat. Talent wins in the NBA. The Bulls got a look at how much they don’t have. They found out how far from great they are.
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