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Road game in Chicago

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (24-49) at Chicago Bulls (39-32)
  • Date: March 31, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

Yesterday, the Chicago Bulls won a tough grind it out game against the Dallas Mavericks. They played with composure and grit.

Their defense puts the clamps on the Mavericks and forced them into some tough shots. That’s how Thibodeau’s team was able to win the game for 47 minutes and 57 seconds. A quick glance at the game’s box score though reveals a completely different result.

The Mavericks were actually victorious by two points. Confused? Well you should be, because that’s exactly how Bulls fans and players felt after yesterday’s game.

With 4:07 left on the clock last night, Chicago led 97-85 on the road.

The Mavs still had time left for a run but the odds seemed incredibly slim. With two minutes left on the game clock, Rick Carlise’s group was now facing an eight-point deficit with a score of 97-89.

And then, the Bulls completely self-destructed down the stretch.

They tried running two-man game action on one side of the floor, which was smart but poorly executed. Luol Deng got a switch against Mike James and forced up a low percentage shot.

Nate Robinson recklessly drove to the hoop a few times and either forced up a bad shot or coughed up the ball.

Carlisle ordered a trap on Robinson every time he crossed half-court, and it sped up the point guard’s decision-making process. The end result was a rushed offense.

The Bulls missed a multitude of looks late and also only converted one-of-three free throws in the last two minutes with the game hanging in the balance.

Dallas on the other hand got Dirk Nowitzki — only their best player, no big deal — three open shots from 3-point range in the final 60 seconds of play. He drilled two of them.

The last one came with 2.9 seconds left and gave the Mavericks a 100-98 lead. His final shot gave the Mavericks the win as well as an opportunity at a postseason berth.

This might have been the weirdest game of the season for the Bulls. The same team that ended the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak fell at the hands of a Mavs team in a situation where they normally excel.

Chicago didn’t just stop scoring against Dallas, they also gave up a fair amount of points.

In order to highlight just how uncharacteristic of the Bulls the late game collapse against the Mavericks was, consider this nugget: with the scoring margin within five points or less in the last five minutes of the game, Chicago has the 10th best offense and defense in the league per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

They have wing stoppers in Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler, coupled with an aggressive defense that goes after players.

Offensively, Deng is a tough matchup out on the perimeter and Carlos Boozer is a decent midrange shooter. Add the wildcard that is Nate Robinson, and that makes for an unpredictable offense.

But that’s just it; the Bulls game plan seemed scripted last night and that hurt them.

Matt McHale of Bulls by the Horns summed it up best:

Dallas closed out the game on a 15-1 run as Chicago’s offense — which had been pretty darn good all game long — went into a coma.

This served as remainder that anything can happen on any given night.

The Detroit Pistons are probably hoping to cash in some of that magic if you will. An argument could be made that Dallas got lucky, but teams create their own luck.

And tonight, the onus rests on the Pistons to do the exact same thing.

Read about the Bulls

Bulls by the Horns.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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Tags: Chicago Bulls THN-CHI

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