So imagine this, the Bulls are up by four with 13 seconds left and New York is out of timeouts. They're taking the ball out of their own backcourt and racing it up the court. With six seconds to go, what do the Bulls do? Take an intentional foul?!
In a serious WTF moment, Ronnie Brewer appeared to intentionally foul Anthony sending him to the line for two free throws raising the Knicks odds of winning the game from about .0001% to 2-3%. Sure it was a minor mistake, but how was this not talked about?
Melo is still 12 feet off the three point line, and he wasn't in a shooting motion. Figure it takes him 2-3 more seconds to generate a three point shot with some type of move, then the ball is in the air for another 2-3 seconds, and even if he lands the shot the Bulls are up by one with no more than two seconds left on the clock.
They have a time out, advance the ball, and they could throw it to a Knicks player under the basket and the Knicks still probably wouldn't get off a full court heave in time to have a shot at the game. Instead, Melo makes both free throws, the Bulls in bound and are fouled with 5 seconds left, split the free throws, and New York is now down three with 5 seconds left to go.
Obviously a pretty crappy situation with no timeouts as Melo ends up shooting a 30 footer to try to tie the game. He misses, but they had a reasonable chance, because of a horrible end game situation.
I hope Tom Thibodeau didn't actually ask Brewer to do this and that it was simply a brain fart on Brewer's part, but it's rare that an intentional foul like this would not be called by the head coach. It always scares me how brilliant people can be so stupid at the end of games though.
You see it all the time with clock management, and I think every team would be best to employ a smart person to sit on the sidelines of a game and layout the strategy to be taken when the coach has five seconds to decide it and frequently screws it up. The number of opportunities lost due to time out management and not knowing when to foul is simply breathtaking.
Fortunately, Derrick Rose is still a bad ass
The Knicks really had no answer for Derrick Rose until the end of the game. Of course, that's the best time to have an answer for Derrick Rose, but he carved them up all night, scoring with ease in the paint and finding the open man with the pass. The Knicks tried a variety of strategies, but Derrick's simply too big, too strong.. [yeah yeah you know the rest].
There aren't many more superlatives you can use to describe Derrick, because he's a true superstar.
That said, the missed free throw at the end of the game has to be at least a twinge concerning. I still feel confident with Rose on the line at the end of games. He's missed on three free throws in the fourth quarter all year. Unfortunately, two were against Miami for the lead, and one was against the Knicks that would have completely sealed the game.
The Miami ones potentially cost the Bulls the victory, the Knicks one will be forgotten tomorrow. Hard to rip on a guy for missing free throws when he's shooting around 92% in the fourth quarter, but it's tough when all the misses are in critical situations.
Your PF struggling? Play Chicago!
Carlos Boozer chipped in plenty of efficient scoring for the Bulls. He had 16 points on 12 shots with a couple of assists and nine boards. Nothing to complain about there right?
Well he did help limit Stoudemire to a season high 34 points, on 59% shooting with 11 boards, 2 assists, against only 1 turnover. Knicks fans have spent half the season trying to figure out how to free up Stoudemire for better looks. The answer was obvious, go up against Carlos Boozer.
To be fair, this was a tough match up for Boozer who doesn't have the athleticism to stick with Amare who typically set up on the perimeter and drove past him. The Bulls needed to get more help defense around the basket, because there's no way Carlos is going to check Amare on the perimeter.
They know Carlos can't stop a guy, but they didn't put the right scheme in place to provide him help.
Jimmy Butler representing
Jimmy Butler had an encouraging performance including a clutch 12 footer at the end of the game. He came in and played some excellent defense late which is what the Bulls need from him.
Unfortunately his offensive flaws were on display as well. He missed Boozer wide open under the basket on a fast break opportunity and looked scared to shoot at times forcing the Bulls to take worse shots later.
However, given his limited role, those are minor complaints. It was nice to see Butler building on his strengths and playing some tremendous defense at a critical time against great players.
Omer watch starting
After a strong start and some tremendous defense, Omer hasn't been impacting the game as much as in the past. His limited offensive repertoire is still on display, but his beastly defense and rebounding have trickled off a bit.
Not panic time for the guy, whom Bulls fans have probably hyped up beyond reasonable expectations [seriously, I've seen people saying he'll get 10 million dollar a year offers next season], but his struggles have been noteworthy. Hopefully we find ways to continue to maximize his strengths and hide his flaws.
Gimmie the hot sauce
Kyle Korver's one guy who's really stepped up with Deng/Rip out. He's helped the Bulls provide plenty of offense in his typically efficient manner. His defense has been steady as well [and quite honestly, better than his athleticism should allow].
The Bulls miss Deng's rebounding when Kyle is in at SF, but Kyle's doing all you could reasonably ask of the guy and probably a bit more with his extended playing time, so he gets my 'atta boy!'.
Wish I could say the same of Brewer
Ronnie Brewer's been a bit of a roller coaster. After a strong start, shooting the ball, his jump shot has tailed off.
The Bulls need more from Brewer offensively, and it may not be fair to ask that of him. It's just not his skillset. However, with both Rip and Deng out, Brewer's offensive woes become much more pronounced.
Yes, it was harder than you'd like. Yes, it was an ugly ending. However, a road win without Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton is a good win and one the Bulls really needed.
Filed under: Game Threads