When it looked like it was all but certain that Chicago was going to take the series to seven games and play in front of their home crowd at least one last time, a costly play by CJ Watson sent the 76ers to the second round with their first playoff series win since 2003.
With less than ten seconds left on the clock, and the Bulls up by one, CJ Watson managed to dodge a foul and make it past the half court line and into the open court. All he had to do was dribble into the corner, wait to get fouled and take his free throws. He is afterall the best free throw shooter on the team besides Derrick Rose.
Instead, he opted to pass the ball to the team’s worst free throw shooter in Omer Asik. Omer, then got fouled. He got fouled real hard, around his neck. Some would argue it was a flagrant foul. Had that been called, the Bulls would have won the game right there. However, it was not called that way.
Asik on the season shot around 40% from the stripe. Add in the “game on the line” pressure that came with these two shots, and things weren’t looking good for him.
Now, if you were a betting man, and you would have placed a bet saying that Asik would miss both free throws, you would have made some money. In classic Omer Asik fashion, he missed both of his free throws.
The ball was rebounded and Andre Igoudala drove for the basket, only to be fouled by none other than Omer Asik with two seconds left on the clock. Igoudala, who was one of the league’s worst free throw shooters in the 4th quarter this season, nailed both of them.
With two seconds left and no timeouts left, the Bulls inbounded to CJ Watson who chucked up a desperation shot from half court, which nearly went in, but the 76ers left with a 79-78 victory.
And thus, the 2011-2012 Chicago Bulls season came to an end. And in a rare occurance, a number eight seed beat the top seed. If you even consider what the Bulls were playing with a top seed.
Technically, they were the best team in the regular season, but as we all saw, they aren’t the league’s best without Rose. And definitely not without Rose and Noah.
Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton both tried to keep their team in the game. Both scored 19 points and Deng chipped in 17 rebounds. Meanwhile, Gibson who was playing on a sprained ankle, finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Omer Asik finished the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
On the other end of the spectrum, Carlos Boozer only contributed 3 points while grabbing 13 boards. And, like all series, the guard play was poor. Aside from the costly play at the end of the game, Watson only scored 6 points with 10 assists. And John Lucas, who was benched because he wasn’t playing smart basketball, wound up with 7 points.
The 76ers, again, were held under 40% shooting. Their leading scorer, who was also the team hero, was Andre Igoudala. He had 20 points. Jrue Holliday and Lou Williams both had 14, and the most booed man to play in Chicago in the last year or two (that includes LBJ!), Evan Turner, had 10.
For the second game in a row, Spencer Hawes was kept in check and only wound up with 8 points, but he had 10 rebounds. Everyone else that played for the 76ers also scored under 10 points.
And as much as I hate to say it, this is my last game write up of the season. I’ll be writing about the Bulls as much as I can during the off-season, updating you with contract extensions, players being let go, trades, and everything else a Bulls fan would want to know.