Derrick Rose muffed two free throws with under a minute to play that could have given Chicago their first lead of the game and put all the pressure on Miami. LeBron James followed by missing two of his own, unfortunately the Bulls failed to get the defensive rebound.
After Chalmers split a pair and the Bulls barely escaped with the defensive rebound, Rose had a turn around eight foot push shot to tie the game that hit the front of the rim. Rose will likely take the end of game failure personally after a spectacular game.
No moral victories
The short handed Bulls hung with the Heat, and if you could remove the three minute stretch where they played John Lucas and promptly gave up eight points on the lead because they couldn't even get the ball inside the three point line on offense, the Bulls played well.
Unfortunately, you can discount that period, because if C.J. Watson is healthy there's no guarantee things are any better. Luol Deng may have helped Chicago, but Brewer played well overall, so maybe not.
While there's no reason to panic over a road game that goes down to the wire against Miami while Chicago was missing a couple of rotation players, there's no reason to be pleased by playing them close either. The Bulls are in it to win it, not hang around.
Derrick Rose showed MVP stuff
He missed the two free throws which was terrible, and the final shot he missed simply wasn't a very good look. The Bulls didn't run a good play at the end, and he had to throw something up. He was also 0-4 from the three point line.
That about eliminates the flaws on Derrick for the day. His slashing through the lane and tough finishes were simply masterful, many of his misses weren't even so bad because the Bulls were able to clean up the glass frequently on them as he drew so much defensive attention.
Derrick had played passively in many games, but this afternoon he came out and reminded the NBA of what he can do when the Bulls need him to.
Brilliant move by Tom Thibodeau that most coaches don't make
He pulled Derrick Rose just under five minutes in the game after he picked up his second ticky tack foul. The Heat went on a run, and he promptly put Rose back in the game and rode him the rest of the game. Rose finished with three fouls.
This may seem stupid, but this is the kind of thing most coaches refuse to buck conventional wisdom on. Contrary to popular belief you can lose a game by letting things go. The Atlanta Hawks proved that in the playoffs last season when they sat Horford for an entire half because he picked up two early fouls.
Noah shows his worth
Joakim Noah continued his torrid play. Another double double with 4 assists for Noah. He fouled out due to an intentional foul at the end and was the victim of a couple dicey calls, especially the one where LeBron barreled into him while his back was turned.
Joakim's ability to help proved crucial in helping the Bulls defend the Heat, he did a nice job pulling down contested boards, and blocking shots at the rim. Complain about Joakim against big bodied centers all you want, the Bulls need to get through Miami. A healthy Noah is probably the best non-all-star center you could have against them.
Richard Hamilton scaring me again
Another kind of flub game for Hamilton. He scored 11, but none in the second half and missed a bunch of bunnies on the night. He also threw the ball around and had five turnovers on the night.
Quite simply, the Bulls need Richard Hamilton to play much better than that to beat Miami. Even two of his free throws were a complete BS call on LeBron James to gift him a couple of FTs before the half ended.
Speaking of the refs...
I mentioned them a few times, so just so that there aren't any misconceptions, I don't believe the refs hurt the Bulls in this game. I do believe they reffed the game in waves though. There were stretches where each team was the beneficiary of multiple poor calls.
The Bulls were particularly lucky at the end of the game where the inadvertent whistle gave them a jump ball instead of a Miami possession with a good shot to score. That said, LeBron appeared to have illegally tapped the jump, so maybe they made up for it.
All in all, it was a fairly shoddy performance by the refs IMO, but it wasn't shoddy in any one direction.
What did you think of LeBron?
The Bulls have somehow managed to consistently stop Dwyane Wade, but they seem to have no hope against James. James just tears them apart. I think LeBron frequently thinks to much. I think when he feels pressure that he lets it get to him.
The thing is, he rarely feels pressure because he's better than everyone else. He doesn't feel any pressure against Chicago, but he felt it in the finals last year.
Unless the Bulls find a way to make LeBron feel pressure and tighten up his game it's going to be tough to defeat Miami.
The Bulls allowed LeBron to get a ton of easy points in the paint through poor transition defense and not paying attention to back door cuts. However, when they were focused on stopping him in isolation they did a reasonable job at times. They forced plenty of turnovers and some poor shots.
Chicago really needs to work on making sure people get back in transition, and a big function of that is the offensive set they were frequently using had two players baseline, Noah crashing the glass for a rebound, and Rose driving to the basket. Four of the five players would then basically be even with the basket when the ball came off the glass.
When Miami rebounded and ran, it was simply too easy.
Better luck next game
There will be three more chances to take down Miami and despite the Bulls playing short handed, I feel they wasted one today. This was a game they could have easily won at the end if Rose knocks down his free throws [his only misses on the night from the free throw line], and it's disappointing they weren't able to find a way to pull it out.