The Bulls edged the Hornets
That last play of regulation was crushing. The Hornets have run that play a dozen times, but tonight three things went wrong. First, West overthrew Paul by too much, forcing him to sprint into the crowd to catch it, Marcus Thornton went towards the basket behind the guy covering him rather than giving Paul a place to throw it to, and then there was the cameraman. Frigging Cameraman.
Paul goes down, his knee hurt, and he was unable to do anything in overtime, despite gamely hobbling around at the end. Now he’s questionable for tomorrow night in Memphis. Horrible ending.
And there were sooo many chances to win that game too.
Like during the overtime game in Denver, Jeff Bower sent out the starting unit to commence the overtime. I am not a fan of this. Yes, they are the starters, but all game long Bower had been making adjustments on the fly, and he should have known which lineups had worked best against the Bulls by that point. The starting lineup? Not effective. It had been kept afloat in the first quarter purely by amazing three point shooting, and in the third, they were demolished. The most effective lineup had been West, Songaila, Wright, Thornton and Paul. That group had generated all the big runs.
Just because the horn blows doesn’t mean its a clean slate. Keep with what got you there. (though I think I’d rather have seen Collison in there rather than a hobbling Paul. He’s a warrior, but it hurt.)
Night and Day or . . . Wright and Stojakovic
While tonight they were pretty similar offensively. (Neither could hit the broad side of a barn.) Defensively, however, things were completely different: Loul Deng crushed Stojakovic, and Julian crushed Loul Deng. It was that simple. Yes, it can be really, really hard at times to watch Julian offensively. He’s such a damn disaster, but when Peja isn’t hitting at a good clip either, Julian is the better player without question. All the runs were keyed when he entered the game.
Thornton was on fire to open the game, dropping threes and runners alike en route to 11 first quarter points. He was, in fact, keeping the Hornets afloat in that first quarter as they were completely demolished on the defense end by a highly effective two man game being run by Loul Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Throughout the game
Collison hit a big shot to open the third, defended Kirk Hinrich and Rose very well whenever he was in, and I can’t even figure out what he was trying to do on that last play.
- The Hornets went with a three-guard rotation tonight, Rotating Paul, Thornton, and Collison through the PG and SG spots. I like it. And just so I can toot my own horn, it’s what I asked for. To channel Colbert: “Woooo! I called it! Yeah!!!!”
- The past couple games West has had a couple awful plays that have overshadowed strong games. Typically, he comes back and makes a big play too, but wow, he’s had some serious brain farts. I’m almost to the point where I’d rather have ANYONE inbounding the ball than David West.
- Okafor was solid on the glass, but he was completely ineffective for most of the game. The past couple weeks the connection he seemed to have developed with Paul seems to have vanished again. Not sure why.
- Bower tried a three guard lineup in the third, with Paul, Collison and Thornton all in at the same time. In past games, that lineup has worked very well for a few minutes a game, but the Bulls simply fed the ball to their big wings John Salmons and Loul Deng and they ballooned a 6-point lead to 14 in about three minutes before Bower was able to get Wright in there and stop the bleeding.
That’s enough. I don’t really want to think about this game anymore. Game tomorrow night in Memphis. Maybe Paul will have had his knee rebuilt using cybernetics by then. You know, like Commander Shepherd at the start Mass Effect 2. And speaking of ME2, if you haven’t been playing it and Dragon Age for the past three months, you are totally not cool. At least by my lofty standards.