Round 2 Game 4: Hawks 100, Bulls 88

Let’s get this out of the way first.

With 2:27 left in the fourth quarter and the Bulls trailing 90-84, Derrick Rose made a nice ball fake, got Jamal Crawford into the air, and then drew obvious contact on a three-point attempt. Official Bennett Salvatore blew the whistle…

…then said it was inadvertent and ruled a jump ball. Josh Smith won the tip, Jeff Teague gained possession, and Atlanta’s possession ended with a dunk by Al Horford that increased Atlanta’s lead to eight points.

That’s a big swing. It was also a mistake.

And Salvatore admitted as much.

Said Salvatore: “An inadvertent whistle is when a referee blows his whistle and didn’t mean to. That’s exactly what happened. I blew my whistle and didn’t mean to, I didn’t think it was a foul. Having watched the replay after the game, it was a foul and I should have called it. I made a mistake.”

He blew his whistle. But he didn’t think it was a foul. Okay.

Salvatore continued: “I blew my whistle. I was positive it was not a foul. I blew my whistle by accident. Which is an inadvertent whistle. That’s why I disallowed it … Having watched replay. It was a foul. I made a mistake. I was wrong.”

Said Rose: “It’s basketball. Hopefully next time they call it.”

Added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “At that time of the game, I’ve never seen that. But look, Benett’s a good official. He said he made a mistake. He’s human. So that’s what he did. He’s a good official. He got him in the air, he came down on him. I thought it was a foul. But you know, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t.

You don’t have to be a math major to realize how costly Salvatore’s mistake was for the Bulls. Assuming Rose hit all three of the free throws he should have gotten, the Bulls would have been down only three points with two and a half minutes remaining. Instead, after it was all said and done, they were down eight with two minutes to go.

And, watching the game, you could tell the sequence demoralized them.

If that call had been made correctly, the Bulls could have won this game. But it’s not why they lost the game. It’s never really that simple is it?

For starters, Chicago’s interior defense was poor. The Hawks went 22-for-34 (64.8 percent) at the rim and outscored the Bulls 56-40 in the paint. Horford was 6-for-6 at the rim. Joe Johnson was 3-for-3. Jason Collins was 2-for-2. Crawford 1-for-1. Teague was 4-for-6. Smith was 6-for-11.

Teams don’t earn many wins by giving up that many good looks around the basket.

They also got shot down by Johnson (24 points, 9-for-14, 3-for-5 on threes) and picked apart by Smith (23 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists). Smith didn’t shoot well (8-for-22), but he got to the line (7-for-9) and created extra offense though his passing and work on the offensive glass (5 offensive boards).

Overall, Chicago’s defense simply wasn’t that good. Atlanta finished with an Offensive Efficiency of 108.7. That’s too high for this team.

Now let’s talk about the offense.

Rose finished with game highs in points (34), assists (10), free throw attempts (11) and shot attempts (32). It’s that last stat that worries me. Especially considering the rest of the starting unit combined for two fewer shots than Rose took.

It’s tempting to think the shot distribution wouldn’t have been a big deal if Derrick had converted more than 12 of his attempts. But it was a big deal. And not because Rose’s shot selection was terrible. After all, 22 of his 32 attempts came inside 10 feet. But he went only 6-for-14 at the rim and 2-for-8 from 3-9 feet.

To be completely honest, I thought there was a significant amount of uncalled contact on several of Rose’s drives. Which isn’t all that surprising, considering Hawks coach Larry Drew talked about his team getting more physical with Rose after Game 3. That’s what happened. The Hawks forced Rose into several misses and got away with bumping him off a handful of shots that might have otherwise gone in or resulted in free throw attempts.

Said Thibs: “He kept driving the ball. I’m anxious to see the replays. From my perspective, I thought he was getting fouled. Maybe he wasn’t going hard enough.”

But here’s the thing: Even if Rose hit more shots and earned more trips to the lines, and even if the Bulls had pulled this one out, I would still have a problem with the offense. Or, at least, what it devolved into.

Here’s what the Bulls offense looked like in the fourth quarter:

Carlos Boozer missed layup; Rose made 10-footer; Rose made 14-footer + 1 free throw; Rose made layup; Rose missed layup (blocked by Teague); offensive rebound; Rose missed 14-footer; offensive rebound; Rose missed 8-footer; Rose missed layup; Kyle Korver made 17-footer (Rose assists); C.J. Watson turnover; Taj Gibson 2-for-2 at the line; shot clock violation; Rose turnover; Luol Deng missed three-pointer; offensive rebound; Rose made 7-footer and the foul; Rose misses free throw; Rose made layup; Rose missed layup; Rose missed 6-footer; Rose turnover; Salvatore’s blown call; Korver missed three-pointer; Deng made layup (Rose assists); Korver turnover; Rose made layup.

In summary: The Bulls’ fourth quarter offense consisted of only 2 assists (both by Rose), 4 free throw attempts, 5 turnovers and 17 field goal attempts…12 by Rose.

Said Thibodeau: “You know, when he’s making the plays and he’s scoring, everyone’s saying how great he is. So tonight, he was aggressive. I didn’t have any problem with the way he played. … It’s a make or miss league. If they go down, we’re talking about the great plays and how unselfish he is.”

Countered Kyle Korver: “I think when Derrick gets it going, he should shoot every time. But when it’s not there, we got to work it as a team. We got to do a better job of getting open so he can see us, and he probably needs to do a better job sometimes of finding us, but it’s a team thing. You can’t out it on one person. Obviously, when he has it going, he is the best basketball player in the world, and we want him to take every shot that he feels like he’s going to make.”

Korver’s right. The offense cannot become “Rose dribbles and drives while everybody else stands around watching.” That’s what happened in the fourth quarter of last night’s game, and it’s no wonder the Bulls scored only 19 points over those final 12 minutes. Look, Derrick has become a tremendous closer, one of the best in the game. But no matter how good he is, Most Valuable Player or not, the Bulls still need to execute an actual offense down the stretch.

That didn’t happen last night. And it was costly. More so even than Salvatore’s “inadvertent whistle.” Much more so because officiating is out of a team’s control. The way an offense runs is — or should be — fully within the team’s control.

Take Boozer’s night. Carlos finally broke out of his offensive slump — 18 points, 7-for-10 from the field, 4-for-4 from the line — but attempted one shot in the fourth quarter. The first one, as it turned out, and he never shot again. That’s ridiculous. Boozer is supposed to be the team’s second offensive option. If the team isn’t going to go to him when he’s hot, when are they going to go to him? This is just a for instance. Deng is the team’s third option and he took only two shots in the fourth.

Good offense requires ball movement and total involvement from all five guys on the floor. I’m perfectly okay with Rose taking 30+ shots as long as they come within the flow of the offense. When there’s no flow to the offense…that’s when the problems crop up.

Everybody is at fault. Thibs is at fault for not running more plays that get players other than Rose good looks. Rose’s teammates are at fault for not being more aggressive, getting open, and calling for the ball. And Rose is at fault for not generating more offense for the other guys wearing red jerseys.

This isn’t a critical flaw…but it could become one if the team doesn’t get it figured out. I’m sure Thibodeau and players will make adjustments for Game 5. But last night, poor defense and terrible fourth quarter offense cost the Bulls a chance to put a hammer lock on this series.

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box ScorePlay-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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16 Responses to Round 2 Game 4: Hawks 100, Bulls 88

    chitown4life May 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I am gonna get right to into it, a whistle that was not meant to be blown then it was meant to be blown . Oh no say it did not happen it did. that no call may have cost the bulls this game and if they should lose this series by one game then it might just be the biggest no call of this series.
    I won’t stay on that but I will say hope that the calls don’t continue to go like that, also Rose is the MVP yet he is not getting MVP calls. something is wrong with this system something seems not right there.
    I myself feel the Bulls will win this series and they will win the next two.
    D Rose says this game is on him, that is not true the team lost this game a lot of missed shots and to many points given up in the lane , I am true Bulls fan and when D Rose says its on him the next game is not gonna be nice for the apposing team, which means the hawks are about to be grounded . Next game the Bulls will route them by 20 or more and totally let them know why this team has the best record along with the NBA’s MVP DRose. Also great game Boozer we need more of them in the coming games.

  2. Tae May 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Even though Rose is 22, he needs more rest on the bench for his style of play. Not only were most of his shots that night pure athletic drives, but he was also covering Teague who was just as fast as him on the defense.

    Unfortunately, the Bulls never gave enough leeway for CJ Watson to handle the 2nd half for 5 minutes and give Rose a breather.

    Josh Smith, FINALLY after 2-3 seasons of booing from his home crowd after every jumpshot, started driving to the hoop and realizing he’s guarded by Carlos Boozer. I expect more Taj Gibson as a defensive adjustment now that Smith realized he’s not Ray Allen.

    Seriously, how long do you really need to be booed by your home crowd that you DON’T take long 2’s or, heaven’s sake, 3 POINTERS! MULTIPLE TIMES!

    When the Bulls are cold, they are COLD. This is just the major disadvantage of 3 shooting guards that can’t consistently average ONE decent guard statline combined every night.

  3. Inception May 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    can someone logically explain why Thibs and CHI did not go to Boozer in the 4th? i mean, he had the hot hand and he was basically non-existent in the 4th….Thibs needs to work on his offensive skills as a coach.

    Adam May 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Watch the replay of the whistle… the ref raised his hand AND blew his whistle–it was NOT, NOTTTT a mistake. The Ref changed his mind (for reasons unknown) after the fact. This was NBA agenda BS.


  5. Inception May 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    that was Stern and his cronies sending a message into Salvatore’s ear-piece…”don’t call the foul! the series must go to 7 games!”

    GotNext May 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I completely agree with you Matt in regard to not feeding Boozer when he finally got it going. As good as Rose is, he has to realize that he won’t be able to carry this team by himself every game and needs to do a better job of involving his team mates. I know it’s easier said than done, but dumping it to Boozer a couple times or running a PR with Rose isn’t a very hard basketball play.

    Let’s be honest here too, yes it was a blown call that should have been a foul, but the Bulls were down by 6 not because of officiating but as Matt said, because of stagnant offense and terrible defense. I expect a better overall effort on Tuesday and on a positive side, seems like Boozer finally woke up.

    Savage May 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    The Bulls lost this game because they did not deserve to win. Was it a terrible call? Yes but I think they lose this one anyway. We were right where we wanted to be late in the third and did not match the intensity that Atlanta played with in the 4th. Atlanta attacked on the offensive and defensive end and we did not.

    It seems like someone said something to Boozer at halftime. He came out and played with an intensity and a bit of anger that we have not seen yet in the playoffs. However, the Bulls team failed to utilize this in the fourth only going to him one time during the fourth quarter. First off Boozer should be playing that way every minute of these playoffs its a bit disappointing seeing him shut down at times both defensively and offensively. Second when he does turn it on we need to make sure to give him the ball in the post. It creates opportunities for open perimeter shots and increases the chances of getting shot in the paint either by Boozer or a cutter.

    Zilla May 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    I am all for going to Boozer, and for that matter Deng, in the beginning of the game. Smith and Johnson in foul trouble = Hawks lose the game plain and simple. Why did we stop going to Deng for the first 3 possessions of the first quarter when the postseason started anyway? It was like a guaranteed 4-6 points and 1-2 fouls on their best wing defender in the first quarter every game. Now? Nothing.

  9. Ajit May 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Whose fault was the non-existent timeout call at the end by Thibs?

    inkybreath May 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    There is a lot of learning to be had, all around.

    This is the first year for this team, as it is not an extension of the BGorndon, KHinrich years (master of the obvious, at your service…)

    They are going to learn these lessons, at some point, and I rather they have to learn them now and not in a later series.

    Honestly, it looks like there is parity in the NBA like we have never seen. With the Spurs and Lakers going down the way they did, I have been less apt to look down on the Bulls play. (BTW, I am still floored the Lakers did not win a game, I can’t imagine what Kobe must be thinking …)

    DRose still has to learn how to coax wins out of every situation and I have full confidence that he is open to learning more. It is not unreasonable to think we are still winning this series.

    We have gone from first round losers to the ECF (most likely), which is a proper step, even if they don’t make it to the Finals.

    Savage May 10, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    @inkybreath, well said. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    They need to figure out how to have the type of ball movement (WITHOUT TURNOVERS)they have on some nights on offense and then totally go without it on other nights. The group we have now will figure it out and when they do be a very strong and consistent team. The best record in the League during the regular season gives credibility to that type of thinking.

    inkybreath May 10, 2011 at 3:01 am #

    (… we are ready to be “the Spurs” … just need our Ginobli …)

    it is what it is May 10, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    let’s keep blaming the refs for Rose shooting about 35%

    GotNext May 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    let’s keep assuming that’s what the bulls fans are blaming it on

    inkybreath May 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Yeah, that call was the least of our hurdles for that game …


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