Chicago teased fans and analysts alike with a devastating Game 3 attack that saw Derrick Rose score 44, but they showed their pathetic mortal side in Game 4 which begs many questions, not the least of which is are the Bulls done?
“Having watched the replay after the game, it was a foul and I should have called it.”
-NBA Referee Bennett Salvatore on his inadvertent whistle in the fourth quarter
With Boston and Miami looking elite, the Bulls stumbled past the Pacers and have been struggling to stay afloat against the Hawks who have won once on the road and nice at home. The controversy coming out of Game 4 is that Derrick Rose, in perhaps an attempt to repeat his Game 3 performance, shot too much.
Rose’s shot total was 32 of which he hit 12 to finish the night with 34 points. In Rose’s 44 point outing he shot just 27 times hitting 16.
“When he’s making the plays and scoring, everyone is saying how great he is,” said Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau. “He was aggressive. I didn’t have any problem with the way he played. He kept driving.”
On 25 possessions, Rose never passed after crossing halfcourt or receiving an inbounds pass. On those, Rose shot 7-for-22 and drew three fouls, scoring 21 points.
This was one of the many things that caused the Bulls to collapse and burn in Atlanta, but does it signify the beginning of the end of this season for Chicago?
The truth is not yet, but it may be close. The Bulls started to pick it up offensively last night but the Hawks countered in frustrating fashion. There was, however, a pivotal error late in the fourth quarter that many fans think cost the Bulls the game and a 3-1 series lead.
The play in question occurred when Derrick Rose attempted a jump shot looking for contact and a foul. He technically got neither but what he did get was a whistle. Referee Bennett Salvatore blew his whistle, but it wasn’t to call a foul, it was simply a mistake.
“I blew my whistle, I was positive it was not a foul. I blew the whistle by accident, that’s why I disallowed it.”
The only thing was, Rose did appear to get fouled by Jamal Crawford. Due to the disallowed whistle, there was a jump ball which Atlanta won and subsequently scored off of. This made it a 92-84 Hawks lead with little more than 2:00 left. Had the foul been called, Rose would have gone to the line for three free throws which could have potentially made the game 90-87.
“Bennett’s a good official. He made a mistake. That’s what he did, he’s human.” said Thibodeau after the game.”
The truth of this is, it may have cost the Bulls a shot to get back into the game, but at that point one blown jump ball call with 2:00 and a 90-84 score was not going to cost the Bulls the game. The Bulls, in true self blaming fashion, agree and took full responsibility for the loss. But for what is worth, Salvatore did admit his error.
That was about the only victory the Bulls got on Sunday. They will regroup and attempt to regain their footing in Game 5 Tuesday in Chicago. As for their playoff life span, the Bulls are flirting with the inevitability of playoff death.