11:42 PM CDT, May 8, 2012
Game 1 was called the saddest win of the Bulls season.
Game 5 figures to be the most useless.
The Bulls came out with some of the urgency you expected from a team facing elimination. But that didn’t stop them from engaging in the usual sloppiness. Ditto, Philadelphia. It has been that kind of playoff series.
The Bulls and 76ers combined for 15 turnovers in the first half but managed only 10 points off them. When they did protect the ball, the teams combined to miss 55 shots.
The Bulls would say they played some hellacious defense. But no. The 76ers just missed open shots. Same goes for the Bulls. This might’ve been the worst half in NBA playoff history.
Not that the Bulls and 76ers were much better in the second half, combining to miss 46 shots.
But the Bulls weren’t worried about style points. Ugly was fine as long as ugly kept them alive. Ugly was fine as long as ugly meant a win.
And it did, 77-69, extending the pain of watching the Bulls try to come back from the brink in a series that seems to get worse by the day, and right now this one is into next week.
One guy who should escape blame for the general mess is Taj Gibson, who came off the bench to turn around the game, scoring two points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking four shots in the first half. He was a big reason the Bulls outscored the 76ers by eight in the second quarter, the difference in the game.
It figures Gibson would roll an ankle and have to leave in the second half. It has been that kind of series as well.
Surprisingly, the Bulls played a fourth quarter that didn’t make you want to rip your eyes out. They still were outscored, but only by a point. See you in Grant Park.
Luol Deng was particularly clutch in the fourth quarter, hitting three bailout 3s. He finished with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting, along with eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks, which makes you wonder:
If he was badly hurt, how could he deliver that kind of game, and if he could deliver that kind of game late in the series, where was this earlier when the Bulls desperately needed something with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah out?
Whatever, it doesn’t matter much in the big picture. If your dreams are winning a round, then fine. There’s still a chance.
But if you have bigger hopes, you ought to fear facing an opponent that can score and play actual basketball.
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