By Jueseppi B.
Bulls lose their cool in blowout loss to Heat
Noah, Gibson ejected as team suffers largest margin of defeat in franchise playoff history
Bulls lose 115-78 to the Heat on Wednesday.
MIAMI — Twelve seconds into the Heat’s 115-78 victory over the Bulls, Udonis Haslem delivered a foul that sent Nate Robinson back to his college football days and down hard to the American Airlines Arena court.
The Bulls knew right after their stunning Game 1 victory that the Heat would produce a more impassioned effort Wednesday night. Nine technical fouls, two ejections and one flagrant foul later, they got their answer.
The Bulls lost a game and their composure, suffering the largest margin of defeat in franchise playoff history and having Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson ejected by official Scott Foster in a flurry of technical fouls at the 10-minute, 13-second mark of the fourth quarter.
This was no day at South Beach. In fact, about all this one lacked was Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau joining one of the many scrums to latch onto James’ leg, a la when mentor Jeff Van Gundy did the same to Alonzo Mourning during a Knicks-Heat series in 1998.
Gibson, who didn’t leave the court in a timely fashion and continued to shout profanity at Foster, has a small chance of getting suspended for Friday’s Game 3 — and certainly will be fined. Noah, who drew his second technical from the bench, entered the court area, which is an automatic suspension when an altercation is occurring.
This wasn’t an altercation because the Bulls showed little fight all night.
“Not being very Zen,” Noah said.
The Bulls, whose previous worst loss in franchise playoff history was 26 points, trailed by as many as 46. They shot just 35.5 percent, were out rebounded 41-28, on the short end of a 20-2 disadvantage in fast-break points and surrendered 56 points in the paint.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson get ejected from Game 2
“You have to give them credit,” Thibodeau said. “They were more aggressive, more determined. We got sidetracked and you can’t do that. We allowed frustration to carry over to the next play. You’ve got to have poise under pressure.
“You come in here and you’re not going to get calls. That’s reality. So you’ve got to stay focused and get the job done.”
The Bulls allowed 60 percent shooting and the Heat to score 28 points off 19 turnovers. LeBron James tallied 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds in just 32 minutes, setting the tone with a dominant first half. Ray Allen led the Heat with 21 points.
James was James, making his first six shots on all layups or dunks and, as expected, switching at times on to Robinson, who went scoreless in the first quarter and 3-for-10 overall. Carlos Boozer struggled for the second straight game, scoring just eight points.
Nine seconds after Haslem opened the proceedings with his hard foul on Robinson, Wade drew a technical for throwing the ball at Marco Belinelli when Belinelli wrapped him up on a fast break. Later in the first, Noah and James traded elbows and technicals.
Early in the second, Chris Andersen delivered a flagrant-one on Belinelli. Even rookie Marquis Teague got in on the act, drawing a technical for shoving Norris Cole. When Daequan Cook wrapped up James on a breakaway, Andersen sprinted into the ensuing scrum and knocked some bodies around.
Robinson even drew a technical when the teams were entering a timeout. Cook — gulp — guarded James in stretches because Jimmy Butler exited for the first time in 160 minutes, 41 seconds with foul trouble.
In the third, Mario Chalmers drew a technical that could merit league discipline because he grabbed Noah around the neck. And the Heat was on — to the tune of a 30-15 quarter advantage.
“I’m tired of getting cheap-shotted by him on screens,” Chalmers said.
The venom is officially flowing.
“Who cares if you like somebody or not?” Noah said. “It’s just two teams that want to win.”
Gibson admitted the Bulls lost composure.
“We did because we’re better than that,” Gibson said. “I should’ve conducted myself better or walked away. It was just frustration. You’re getting blown out. It’s playoffs, on national television. Just got to move on.”
“The first technical I felt like there were some elbows being thrown and I actually was trying to make sure Jimmy was all right,” Noah said. “I guess because I just ran over there that’s why I got the technical. (The second), I just wanted to let the referee know how I felt about the game. But I definitely deserved to get kicked out.”
Noah smiled in defiance.
“We came here and did our job,” he said. “We won a game. We’ve got the home court. We’re a confident group. We got punched in the mouth. But we’ll be back.”
Heat-Bulls Game 2: Bulls lost their heads along with series lead
The Bulls got beat Wednesday. They got beat bad. They got beat ugly. They got beat in a demoralizing, disheartening, embarrassing fashion by the Miami Heat in Game 2. And when a beatdown like that happens, a lot of things go wrong. You don’t shoot well (35 percent from the field) and take poor shots (23 threes for a team that’s bad at shooting generally). You lose the rebounding battle (41-28). You don’t defend well (125.3 defensive rating) and turn the ball over (20.6 percent turnover rate).
And you don’t get a lot of calls. The game was called the exact opposite way Chicago wanted on Wednesday. It was a tight but physical game, with restriction of movement punished and elbows and hammers going uncalled. It was a nightmare game for Chicago and in any game like that, you’re going to feel like things didn’t go their way.
The Bulls took it a little far, though.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected in the third quarter once the game was out of reach, and they were clearly trying to make their feelings known to the crew and cause a scene heading into Game 3 in Chicago. But even before that, the Bulls let the game get to them.
Now, it’s easy to type that sitting on a comfortable couch a thousand miles away. In the flow of the game, one that the Bulls need to be emotional in to win, frustrations will show. That’s understandable. But they can’t let the call sbecome a distraction. If the game isn’t being called the way they need, they need to adjust to how it’s called. That’s the misconception by most fans. It’s not that calls favor one team or the other (usually). It’s that the way the game is called favors one side or the other.
Call a game loose underneath and tight on the perimeter, and the game favors a team like Golden State. Call it tight underneath and loose on the perimeter, and a team like Denver gains an advantage. So when the calls came in Wednesday night, the Bulls couldn’t adjust. Their entire approach is based purely on the ability to muscle, bully, and irritate the opponent into an ugly game, then close out, as they did in Game 1.
When things didn’t go their way, the Bulls fell apart, and here’s some news: that’s going to happen in this series. The Bulls are up against the most talented team in the league, with superstar call advantages and a lot of speed everywhere. Things will not go their way a lot of the time. Things will be difficult, but the Bulls must keep their heads down and persevere.
It’s a case of head down, man down. The Bulls lost their heads with the technicals and complaints and ejections, and they cannot let that happen. They have to respond, with smart play, keep their heads together, stick to the gameplan, and hope for the best by trusting the process. Is it possible their hijinx on Wednesday will earn favor with the officials in Game 3? Absolutely. But it’s just as likely the officials object to Noah and Gibson’s efforts to intimidate them in Game 2 and respond in kind.
The Bulls have faced so many obstacles this offseason, but they’ve won because they stuck with focusing on what they can control. In Game 2, they got caught up in too many things they can’t, and in doing so, they lost control of the game and the series.
It’s a heavyweight title fight…..not a basketball playoff series!!
Remember, the series is tied, Miami has no home court advantage as of right now.
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