The Bulls beat the Suns while the Spurs beat the Hawks, so if the two teams finished tied, the homecourt will be based on random draw. The Bulls built a huge lead largely behind the play of their bench in the second quarter and the starters in the early third.
At this point, down by around 20 points, you kinda figured the Suns would go away. They've got nothing to play for, Aaron Brooks is on the court while Steve Nash rests, and the game looks like it's on it's way to blowoutville.
That's when things went wrong. Vince Carter hit a couple threes, the Suns got a few absolutely ridiculous calls in their favor, the Bulls made a few turnovers, and the lead started shrinking and shrinking.
The Bulls can never quite get it going offensively, and they end up up by a mere two points with a minute (or so) to go. Derrick Rose time.
Rose slices in and knocks down a three point play, but Channing Frye comes back and knocks down a three to bring it back to two. Rose knocks down a wicked step back two to push it to four. Vince Carter hits a driving layup to bring it back down to two but with only 26 seconds left, and after the Suns inexplicably wait 13 seconds before fouling Kyle Korver, who then equally inexplicably splits the free throws....
Steve Nash decides to hand the game to the Bulls with extraordinary stupidity
The Suns have no timeouts, so Nash takes it straight out of bounds, and then for who only knows what reason, he drives inside the lane with about five seconds on the clock and passes the ball off to Gortat with about four seconds left.
I know we want to talk about how great and heady Nash is, but my god what a stupid play that was. The ball bounces around for awhile as Gortat misses the shot, and the game clock expires. However, look, you're down three with no timeouts. What if you make a two with about there seconds left to be down one?
You're going to foul right away, even if the other team misses both free throws, you'll have maybe two seconds left to get the ball and launch a shot from the opposite end? Good luck with that.
I mean, I get that your opposition is pushing you hard to not allow a three, but you have to shoot a three there. You just have to. There's no such thing as a 'quick two' strategy when you have no timeouts to advance the ball.
The Suns did a nice job forcing the ball out of Derrick's hands on defense
The Bulls did a nice job adjusting to that though. Rose took only 15 shots and had just four assists, but the Bulls did a great job of making the second pass after Rose gave up the ball to find easy baskets.
Rose, Deng, Boozer, Noah, and Brewer all had four or more assists (while Watson had three).
Bulls eased off the gas in the second half and it cost them
In the late third and most of the fourth, the Suns just won all the hustle plays. The Bulls may have been looking for the Suns to roll over and die, but it didn't happen, At the same time, the Bulls couldn't find any offensive continuity on the other end, and the combination led to the Suns run.
The Bulls seem to really gear it up for big competition, and they've tended to let other teams hang around a bit too much for my liking, still, are we going to really sit back and complain about not beating a team like the Suns by 'enough'?
The Celtics don't look like complete trash so much lately, so I'm happy the bulls were able to close down the magic number by a game. The Celts are no tied with the Heat again (and own the tiebreaker) for the second seed.
With 5 games left to play, the magic numbers look like this:
#1 seed / Boston (3)
[updated Lakers number after waking up to find out they lost to the Jazz]