Bulls 92, Sixers 109 — FINAL
Life without Derrick Rose isn’t so rosy. The Chicago Bulls found that out in the second half of Tuesday night’s embarrassing 109-92 loss to the Sixers which sends the series back to Philadelphia tied 1-1.
This was not a Bulls team anyone in the building or watching on TV was familiar with. After coming out strong in the first half, the Bulls melted down faster then Derrick Rose broke down in the postseason.
Playoff basketball is all about finding and exploiting weaknesses and the 76ers very much did that to Chicago, violently exploiting their lack of third quarter consistency, slamming the Bulls with the hardcore blitzkrieg. Philadelphia outscored the Bulls 36-14 in the third after trailing the whole game to that point.
Without Rose on the court, the Bulls couldn’t muster up a comeback and the 76ers kept pouring it on. Jrue Holiday went for 26 points on the night and Lou Williams stepped up to score 20 as Philly racked up 62 second half point to Chicago’s 37.
“Disappointed,” Chicago’s Joakim Noah said. “Disappointing effort overall. We didn’t play well defensively. We didn’t play well offensively.”
Derrick Rose was in the building for the game, limping out to hand off the game ball to a standing ovation at the United Center. The ovation didn’t last as long as expected, but the site of Rose so hobbled on the court was symbolically ripping the scab off the fresh wound for Bulls fans.
The game the succeeded Rose’s appearance didn’t help in the least.
Rip Hamilton did not step up the way he was supposed to with Jrue Holiday holding him to just 10 points on the night. John Lucas III outscored starter C.J. Watson with 15 points and Joakim Noah led the team with 21 points. That’s how you know you’re night was off, when Joakim Noah leads in scoring.
But it was horrifyingly awkward at the United Center. It was difficult for Bulls fans to cheer like they usually do and that infected the entire arena. Usually the United Center is loud and proud and the players feed off that. But it was deathly quiet for a Bulls game and that was reflected in the poor second half play by the Bulls.
“It’s different [without Rose],” Noah said. “There’s no excuses, though. We know we can play better. It’s disappointing, but you know what? We live to fight another day. There’s a lot of basketball to play.”
The Bulls almost get the rest of the week off. They have the next two days to ponder how things can change before Game 3 tips-off in Philadelphia on Friday. It’s odd being around the Bulls, it’s almost as if they pulled a Baltimore Colts Mayflower stint and switched the team over night.
It’s the same faces, different people.
Although Rose is out, that’s not an excuse. This isn’t a time to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self pity. This Bulls team disappointed a nation of fans Tuesday night, they showed little heart in the second half. It makes sense since the pulse of the team was all the way up in a club level suite, but this is the playoffs.
You either get over it or go home.
The Sixers have a chance in this series like I predicted after the injury. They just beat the Bulls in a place Chicago rarely loses and they didn’t just beat them — they whooped them.
Game’s 3 and 4 are Saturday and Sunday and if the Bulls continue with their pity party a second unthinkable thing will happen this postseason.
The Bulls will head back to Chicago in a must win situation, down in the series 3-1.
Stay tuned to ‘Pippen Ain’t Easy’ all postseason long to get the best, most up to date news and analysis on not only the Chicago Bulls but the entire playoff field from here until the final game of the NBA Finals.