9:11 AM CDT, May 9, 2013
That’s what I don’t get.
I know why the Bulls turned bad in the second quarter -- and third quarter and fourth quarter and -- in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Heat on Wednesday. They turned bad because LeBron James returned to being great and the Heat shooters got hot.
What I don’t get is why they turned stupid before and after they turned bad. They tried to turn Bulls-Heat into Blackhawks-Canucks with a silly macho act between and after the whistles. Slowing down the faster, explosive Heat is a good idea, but the option employed by the Bulls was just dumb.
The Bulls went all tough guy and earned a passel of technical fouls and personal fouls. Drawing Ts was not the kind of discipline required to beat the reigning champions. How many big underdogs lose their poise and still win the game?
Intensity is fine. In fact, it’s demanded. But grade-school acts and pottymouths are mindless.
Most of the scrums occurred in the second quarter, and the Heat improved a five-point lead to 14. The Bulls shot under 40 percent in the half, Miami almost 58. Connect the dots, people.
Bulls starters hit 16 of 47 from the floor, worse than the team’s 35.5 shooting percentage. The Bulls let the Heat shoot 60 percent and lost the rebounding battle 41-28. No offense, no defense, no rebounding, no poise -- no chance.
But again, why? Why would the Bulls throw away a game trying to be macho? How did they turn into such a mental and emotional train wreck so quickly and completely?
Here’s what it looked like to me: The Bulls weren’t getting the respect they thought they deserved from the Heat or the refs and they forgot that playing the game is the only way to right that.
The Heat came in arrogant and physical, but the Heat are always arrogant. The Bulls know this, and they had to expect some physical response after their Game 1 win.
NBA refs, like the betting public, make calls that benefit home teams and favorites. The Bulls know this, too, and had to expect some inexplicable calls.
None of this is new, except the Bulls’ childish actions.
The Bulls apparently considered it more important to respond to the dis than defend the paint. They focused on an apparent insult instead of the turnovers. And the rebounds. And winning. Remember winning?
Maybe it’s me, but throwing elbows and shoulders and yapping after every play doesn’t seem like the mature solution. Respect is earned, and it takes more than one game. Respect is earned by ignoring perceived slights and real cheap shots. Respect is earned by answering with smart play and discipline.
Where was Tom Thibodeau in all this? He knows his team like nobody else, so why didn’t he stop the childish behavior? His players might’ve gone stupid on their own, rogue idiocy, but Thibodeau always responds, always calls timeout, always gets a handle on his players, but I saw nothing from him when the Bulls needed something to stanch the stupidity.
Everybody already knows the Bulls are tough enough to defend the best team in the game. They can play physical basketball without chesty confrontations. In fact, that’s how the Bulls have beaten the Heat since the “Big 3’’ got together.
Play hard, keep your hands to yourself, shut your mouths. Basic stuff. Like your kindergarten teacher explained.
The Bulls came into this series severely undermanned, and still will be even if Derrick Rose makes a rumored return in Game 3. And now their childish acts in Game 2 could carry over to Game 3. Taj Gibson refused to leave the court in a timely manner when he was ejected in the fourth quarter, which might bring league discipline, perhaps even a suspension.
Game 3 is Friday. If those Bulls who are allowed to show up decide just to play basketball, fine by me.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC