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Bulls Fri May 11 2012
What in the hell was C.J. Watson thinking?
Leading Game 6 by a point with 12 seconds left, Watson took the inbounds pass from underneath the Bulls basket, streaked up court (blowing through an uncalled intentional foul by Philadelphia) and passed to quite possibly the WORST FREE THROW SHOOTER IN THE NBA!
Sure, Omer Asik was 4-of-5 from the stripe before missing two free throws (on a blatant, but also uncalled, flagrant foul) with seven seconds remaining, but don't blame him. It should've never gotten to that point. An NBA point guard should be able to read a scoreboard without the assistance of coach explaining the situation during a timeout. It's utterly inexcusable!
You know the story from there: Bulls announcer Stacey King explicitly tells the world that, "Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson have to watch the runout," followed by Andre Iguodala grabbing the rebound, running down the court uncontested, and being fouled by an exhausted Asik.
Iguodala hit both free throws with 2 seconds left, and the Sixers had a 79-78 win and a date with Boston in the East semifinals.
Watson's playoff performance (2-for-11 shooting tonight, 26 percent for the series) in the absence of Derrick Rose went from awful to atrocious in the span of 48 minutes last night. And following his sub-standard play while filling in for the reigning MVP during the season, Watson might have played himself out of the team option the Bulls have on him.
The blame for the loss isn't totally on the Bulls backup point guard though. Carlos Boozer, the Bulls' highest-paid player this season, shot just 1-of-11 from the field. And despite pulling down 13 rebounds, his defense and shooting found him a spot on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
The team defense was there. Asik (10 points, nine boards, two blocks), Taj Gibson (14 points, five boards, two blocks), and Luol Deng (19 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks) all put together stellar performances. But playoff basketball often defies statistics.
The Bulls made one more field goal, one more free throw, and won the rebound battle by 23(!!!). Yet it's offensive execution in crunch time that wins games, and without Rose, there was nobody to go to. They made just one field goal in the final 3:30 (a dunk by Asik where he amazingly caught a great bounce pass by Watson and dunked it -- two things he rarely does separately, let alone consecutively) led by a point guard totally unaware of the situation.
Minus Joakim Noah (who missed his third consecutive game with an ankle injury), the Bulls had a slim chance of winning on the road in the first place, but they had a shot. A Game 7 in Chicago with or without Noah would've been a toss-up. You can imagine just how incredibly loud the United Center would be.
We'll never get a chance to see it though. Get well soon, Rose.