Inadvertent whistles. Missed free throws. Stealing a jump ball on the way up.
And that was just in the final minute.
Sunday's Bulls/Heat game was certainly played in a playoff atmoshpere, and it was certainly an exciting 48 minutes of basketball.
But in the end, just like last year's Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat had just enough at the end to win the game, 97-93. And also just like last year, the Bulls had their chances to win.
They never led in this game, trailing by as much as 12 points, and they were down 11 early in the fourth quarter. But Derrick Rose scored six of his team-high 34 points during an 11-2 Chicago run that tied the game at 84 with 6:55 to play.
Miami promptly went on a 10-2 run to lead 94-86 with under three minutes left, but Carlos Boozer hit two short jumpers and Rose converted a three-point play to cut the lead to one. After James missed a jumper, Rose had a chance to give the Bulls the lead when he went to the line with 22.7 seconds remaining.
But Rose, who had not missed a fourth quarter free throw all season, promptly bricked both attempts. The Bulls then intentionally fouled LeBron, and to nobody's surprise, he missed both free throws as well. That's when things got funny.
On the second miss, the ball deflected off a few players, and Dwyane Wade saved the ball from going over the baseline. One of the officials, however, didn't see it that way and blew his whistle. After looking at the replay, they decided to have a jump ball to basically decide the game.
LeBron and Taj Gibson went to center court for the jump ball, and LeBron clearly stole the toss on the way up. The officials didn't call anything, however, so the Bulls were forced to foul Mario Chalmers.
He made the first and missed the second, and the Bulls took their final time out. Boozer inbounded the ball to Rose, who drove and despite temporary bobbling his dribble, he wound up in the paint with a wide-open 14-footer.
The Shot missed, and the rebound bounced around until Chris Bosh grabbed the ball with 0:00.1 on the clock, and the game was over before Bosh hit both free throws to officially end it.
The Bulls had every chance to win this game, and maybe if Luol Deng is playing, they do. But he wasn't, they didn't, and now the Heat and Bulls are tied with five losses each on the season (the Bulls have two more wins).
LeBron had 35 points and 11 rebounds as the "Big 3" combined to score 74 of the Heat's 97 points. Chris Bosh scored 24 points and Dwyane Wade added 15. No other Heat player scored more than five points.
Rose led the way for the Bulls with 34, but he was only 11/28 from the field. The Bulls other four starters all scored in double figures, but none had more than 11.
Joakim Noah was outstanding, contributing 11points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots. But the other three starters were anywhere from below average to horrible.
Rip Hamilton played well enough on defense, but his lack of offense is probably the biggest factor as to why the Bulls didn't win this game. 11 points on 4/16 from the field, only two assists and five turnovers. He did help harass DWade into 4/16 shooting and four turnovers, but he went to the FT line 10 times.
That was a recurring theme, as the Heat's big 3 shot more free throws than the entire Bulls team (33-28). Carlos Boozer only had 10 points (5/10 FG), but he didn't get to the line at all, and Bosh outscored him by 14 points. Brewer also had 10 points (4/8 FG), and he guarded LeBron about as well as could have been expected.
The Bulls, who still have the best record in the East at 17-5, once again played without Luol Deng, but they still had a chance to win this game at the end.
In the big picture, you can't feel too bad about the outcome of the game. DRose isn't usually going to brick a pair of FT with the game on the line in the final minute. We assume that Deng will be around for the playoffs, which would have made a huge difference in this one- Hamilton was struggling with his shot, but Thibs really had no choice but to play him and Brewer big minutes, beause Korver has no shot of being able to defend LeBron or DWade.
The Bulls can't dwell on this loss, however, as they are right back to work tonight in Washington. I would expect them to come out and bury the Wizards early, but the Wiz have played a little better since they fired Flip Saunders and gave the interim job to Randy Wittman.
Bullsville Radio Highlights