We know how you feel, Chicago. Sunday's Bulls-Blackhawks playoff doubleheader was like the city's spring: way more dramatic than it needed to be. Not that knowing that going in would have prevented the way fans felt at different moments Sunday.
When the dust settled, the Bulls had dug themselves a 3-1 hole against Washington, and the Blackhawks were riding high after eliminating St. Louis from the first round, four games to two.
In between, there was a whole lot of feeling …
It took the Bulls 4 minutes and 13 seconds to score their first bucket Sunday, on a Jimmy Butler jumper. That made it 14-2 in favor of Washington. And on the next possession, Kirk Hinrich's 3-point attempt missed so badly it was funny, hitting off the side of the backboard. It certainly didn't seem like the same team that won Friday night.
Quotable: "It's just disappointing. We thought the mistakes we're making, we could correct them."
If there's any reason to believe the Bulls can rebound from this 3-1 series deficit, it's Taj Gibson. The power forward scored a career-high 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting.
"I feel like we were too relaxed. In this league, you can't be relaxed. Just because one of their starters is out [Nene, with a suspension], you got to come out and have that dog mentality. You got to step on their necks right away."
The same Mike Dunleavy who exploded for 35 points in the Bulls' win in Game 3 had no points at halftime on Sunday and finished with just six points. What happened?!
The Bulls will try to stay alive with a win in Game 5 on Tuesday at the United Center. But this deficit might be too much to overcome.
"It's the first to four. I think they're beatable. We've just got to find a way."
Just watching Corey Crawford make 35 saves is going to take a lot out of you. Imagine how the Hawks goaltender felt, getting his team out of tough spots time after time.
"Not everything's going to go your way in a playoff series, and I think we've come to learn that where if things don't go our way, we need to keep working hard and not shut it down."
The United Center faithful took exception when Blues forward T.J. Oshie flattened Patrick Kane after a whistle in the second period. Of course, it's possible Kane deserved it. He did shove his glove in Oshie's face.
Two goals in 77 seconds early in the third period took Chicago fans from cautiously optimistic to over the moon about the Hawks' chances to close out the series.
"[The Blues are] heavy and they're strong and they're relentless. Every game seemed to get more challenging. … We were fortunate to come out of it the way it ended up."
—Coach Joel Quenneville
When the Blues' Alexander Steen went to box for slashing in the second period, it ended a string of four straight Hawks penalties. And the refs were booed accordingly when they came out for the third period.
For two reasons. First, how could it take Patrick Sharp so long to score in this series? He had 21 shots and a number of golden opportunities before finally breaking through to put the Hawks up 3-1 on Sunday. Second, if he really meant to calmly shuffle the puck underneath a flailing Ryan Miller the way he did, that's some serious finesse.
Quotable: "Of all the shots I had in the series that didn't go in, it's kind of funny that the first one I scored kind of rolls off my stick and goes in."
David Backes had the whole building on edge when he collided with Brent Seabrook, who knocked the Blues captain out for two games in this series, against the boards. That was all the "retaliation" the Blues seemed to care about though. As for Seabrook, he celebrated his return with a pair of assists.
Quotable: "I wasn't trying to be a savior or anything like that. The team is 5-0 with me out of the lineup in the playoffs. I was just trying to help out and not get in the way."
—Brent Seabrook, on his return to the lineup after a three-game suspension.
So. Many. Overtimes. Yet thanks to a four-goal third period, the Blackhawks now can sit back and wait for the winner of the Colorado-Minnesota series, which won't be over until Monday at the earliest.
Quotable: "I was happy that [Sunday's game] didn't go to overtime. Long nights, [it's good] just to get some rest and, you know, some couch time to relax and watch the games and see who we play."
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