Game 3 Disaster: Complete and Utter

Sad Ben

Ever had one of those bad dreams where everything goes wrong? Like, you’re in school but you don’t know your locker combination, haven’t got your books, didn’t do your homework, can’t find any of your classes, forgot to get dressed, and the teachers are all slavering, tentacled monsters who want to use your stomach as an incubator for their evil, writhing, larva-like offspring. We’ve all had those dreams, right? Right…?!

Well, the Bulls lived that dream last night. And I was there, “loving it live.” It was a surreal experience, like watching some horrible natural disaster unfold but not being able to help the victims. The crowd was stunned. Some were livid, others were simply too shocked to be angry. There was a lot of head shaking/nervous laughing going on. The woman next to me had a child on her lap. At one point, I turned to her and said: “It’s too bad your daughter has to see something like this.” She replied: “Fortunately, she’s only three years old, so if I’m lucky she either won’t remember it or she’ll repress it.” Good times. But not really.

Chicago suffered a meltdown so complete that at one point I started to wonder whether the United Center had been converted into a giant microwave. These couldn’t be the same Bulls that almost swept the first two games in Boston, could they? Seriously, I was ready to storm the locker room and check for Body Snatcher pods. I mean, newly minted Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose (9 points, 4-for-14, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 turnovers) wasn’t just thoroughly outclassed by Boston’s Rajon Rondo (20 points, 8-for-15, 11 boards, 6 assists, 5 steals), he was even outplayed by Stephon Marbury (13 points, 4-for-10, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, zero turnovers). Welcome to the Twighlight Zone, folks.

For all intents and purposes, the game was over by halftime, by which point the Bulls were already down by 22 points (59-37). And here are some fun first-half numbers for you: 14 turnovers, 9 missed free throws, 32 percent shooting. And things didn’t get any better in the second half. Vinny Del Negro became so desperate that he put in Tim Thomas to stem the tide. That led to the following sequence, which may rank among the worst possessions of all time: Thomas isolated at the three-point arc for 10 seconds, got his shot blocked by Kendrick Perkins, flopped to try and get the call and then committed a reach-in foul on Rondo, who had snared the rebound and was sprinting downcourt. Amazingly, Thomas got the ball again on Chicago’s very next possession…and had it stolen by Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

For the game, the Bulls committed 22 turnovers, gave up 24 points off those turnovers, shot 37.5 percent from the field and missed 10 of their 27 free throw attempts (mind you, they went 46-for-51 in Games 1 and 2). Going back to turnovers for a second, Boston’s 16 steals were the second-best total in their franchise playoff history, behind only the 18 they had in Game 5 of the 2008 Finals. On the bright side, Chicago won the rebounding battle (45-37) and outscored the Celtics by a point in the second half to lose only 107-86. Oh, and Vinny didn’t have to worry about saving any timeouts down the stretch. So they had that going for them…which is nice.

Speaking of coaching blunders, this game was further proof (in case you needed any) that Vinny isn’t Coach of the Year material quite yet. (Sorry, Peter Vecsey.) To the casual and slightly inebriated observer, it looked like the Celtics came to Chicago with a solid game plan, whereas it seemed like Del Negro just told his guys: “Keep doing what you’ve been doing, only rebound better. Now go get ‘em!” It’s funny how poor preparation becomes exceedingly glaring when Rose and Ben Gordon (15 points, 5-for-13) aren’t having career games.

So now the Bulls are behind 2-1 in the series, only it feels more like they’re down 8-1. That’s how discouraging this defeat was. I know it’s only one loss, and that they could come back to take Game 4, and maybe even win the series (though I highly doubt it). But this sure felt like one of those “told you so” defeats that reveals all the success and good vibes of the last couple months were just fool’s gold.

Update! TrueHoop Network: Zach Lowe from Celtics Hub: “The Bulls certainly didn’t help themselves. No team’s defense is good enough to truly force 22 turnovers against an NBA team. Twice on fast breaks Derrick Rose tossed ill-timed passes from the middle of the court to the left corner; one pass went out of bounds because no Bull was there to catch it. Rajon Rondo zoomed into the passing lane to intercept the second. It will be very interesting to see how the Bulls respond to this game. They looked tentative and unsure of themselves. Five days after the franchise’s biggest win in years, they find themselves coming off a blowout and needing to win a home game to keep this is a competitive series. Sunday is going to be interesting.”

Extras: Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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14 Responses to Game 3 Disaster: Complete and Utter

  1. detroitmurderdog@gmail.com'
    Detroit Murder Dog April 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Timmy T looked like he came into the game on a mission to justify his existence in the NBA. That sequence you described was reminiscent of the YouTube classic Zach Randolph possession against the Raptors where he loses the ball on an awful crossover and then jacks the ball up for a deep 3 (miss) with a ton of time on the shot clock. It seems VDN has the same opinion of Tim Thomas that I do: he should only be on the floor if the team is up or down 20.

  2. torch02@gmail.com'
    Torch April 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    I usually get pretty emotional about games, but this one was so bad, so early that I had an eerie calm about the game. From denial to acceptence about 5 minutes into the second quarter…

  3. AnacondaHL@gmail.com'
    AnacondaHL April 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    “Like, you’re in school but you don’t know your locker combination, haven’t got your books, didn’t do your homework, can’t find any of your classes, forgot to get dressed, and the teachers are all slavering, tentacled monsters who want to use your stomach as an incubator for their evil, writhing, larva-like offspring.”

    Hey, I think that’s called anime.

  4. justinbelize@gmail.com'
    Belize April 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Quick Question…does TT have small hands? Only ask, because the amount of “slipage” that occurs by him, is starting to become more than just youth mistakes.

    Anyways, lets hope they regroup like voltron and defeat
    this evil empire

  5. sguldin3@gmail.com'
    Scott G. April 24, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    That’s a pretty grim conclusion there in the final paragraph. Sad thing is, after last night I completely agree.

    So what happens this offseason? Re-sign BG? Trade Kirk? A Face/Off inspired switcheroo involving VDN and Phil Jackson? (One can hope, right? Right? Sigh.)

  6. sixthman3@hotmail.com'
    Kevin April 24, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    I get pretty emotional too, Torch –
    But mine went from denial to ANGER then acceptance…
    I think it stemmed from the Bulls seeming to show NO emotion out there..

  7. paburnett@gmail.com'
    Pete April 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    First of all, you’ve got a great site here Matt…I’ve been lurking around for a little while but after last night’s “game” I had to speak up.

    This post sums it up pretty perfectly. There are times when the Bulls actually look like they can take on anyone (games 1-2) and times when you wonder if it’s the first time they’ve ever played basketball. There were just so many…..AWFUL plays out there. Just pathetic.

    I told some friends before the game that I knew Paul Pierce would get 26 points (he finished with 24) and Ray Allen would get 19 (he finished with 18), but the real key was shutting down Rajon Rondo…I also said that the Bulls were going to blow out the Celtics…oh well. I hate that guy, but damnit if he isn’t looking like the best point guard in the NBA right now. He is having his way with Derrick Rose and there doesn’t appear to be anything that the ROY can do about it.

    It’s not looking good.

  8. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

    Detroit Murder Dog — You hit it on the head, my friend. That was Z-Bo Redux, all the way. Only at least when Randolph did it — first with the Knicks, later with the Clips — it was during a meaningless regular season game for lottery-or-bust teams. But Timmy T was pulling this crap in a PLAYOFF game. Memo to Vinny: Sending The Walking Contract Year Phenomenon in to save your team is like asking John Goodman to save you a doughnut.

    Torch — I reached acceptence when Boston pushed the lead to 22 right at the end of the second quarter. A few minutes before that, I was telling my buddies, “Look, if we can just get it to 10 or under by halftime, we’ll be okay.” Then…well…that didn’t happen. My acceptence quickly turned to gut-wrenching despair.

    AnacondaHL — Hm, now that you mention it…

    Belize — I’m not sure, but I often feel like he doesn’t have good hands, or strong ones. Maybe I’m just projecting, but I start to panic every time he handles the rock for more than a catch-and-dunk.

    It is seriously time to form the Blazing Sword and cut this Ro-Beast in half.

    Kevin — I didn’t feel like the Bulls lacked emotion, just that they were overwhelmed by the pressure. I mean, it was easy to play fast and loose in Boston, because they weren’t supposed to win there. They had nothing to lose. The first home game for a young team is usually a trap game because it’s their first true “must win” of the playoffs. And a smart veteran team with a good gameplan can usually crack those younger, inexperienced teams like an egg under those circumstances. And that’s what happened.

    Pete — Thanks for the kind words. It’s funny you say that about Pierce, because I told the buddies I went to the game with that Paul was going to score 30, easy. And he clearly would have if the C’s had needed it. But Pierce was basically able to coast through the second half.

    And Rondo…wow. Talk about stepping up his game. Forget Pierce, I knew the Bulls were in deep doggy doo when Rajon drilled that three at the end of the first quarter. Rondo also knocked down a couple 20-footers early in the second, thereby disproving the theory that you can just stand back and let him shoot. In the final analysis, experts may decide that KG’s injury was the best thing that ever happened to Rondo, because he’s really blossomed.

    (Of course, Derrick’s not-so-great defense and Vinny inability to create an anti-Rondo strategy haven’t helped…)

  9. David G April 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    uhhhh i feel uncomfortably numb. game 1 and 2 was some of the most exciting basketball i’ve seen in a while (along with that last detroit game). i feel like the bulls are satisfied with those 3 games and their late run in the playoffs. it’s like the time we swept the champion heat, after that they looked like they were done with the season and just wanted to go home…

  10. grimley73@yahoo.com'
    Raleigh St. Clair April 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Man, oh, man, what a terrible game. A few things I observed – obviously, a lack of D on Rondo. Man, he gets in the paint at will. I want to blame Tyrus and Noah. I think one of the reasons Boston has had success defending Rose is that they have stopped his penetration. Boston’s bigs deserve credit by filling the lane, helping on screens, etc. While I like Noah’s energy, he is kind of a puss defending the lane. I never see him body up opposing guards and it seems like he always gets behind people when they attack the basket.

    I also realized last night that Noah and Tyrus are really immature, more so Tyrus. Duh! Rondo and Davis, both a third year and second year player respectively, are light years ahead of TT and Noah. Rondo is playing like he’s been in the league for ten years. You can say that having veterans like Garnett, Pierce, and Allen in the locker room has had a profound effect on the young guys.

    At this point, I’m not ready to give up on VDN but I’m ready to move on from Tyrus.

    PS – Please, please, please Tyrus, roll to the basket when your defender stays with Rose on a screen. Please. Like you did last night in the 1st quarter. Don’t settle for a jump shot. Yes, you can shoot and have decent form but when you throw a 7.7 Richter Scale dunk down, you change the game. Roll to the basket.

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