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Don’t Cry For Me, Carlos Boozer

(Source: SB Nation)

Game 6: Sixers 79, Bulls 78

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Luol Deng: 19 points (.548 TS%), 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
2. Omer Asik: 10 points (.551 TS%), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks in 39 minutes
3. Rip Hamilton: 19 points (.465 TS%), 8 rebounds (5 offensive)

Well, that’s over.

I mean, how upset are we going to get about the end of this Dead Men Walking playoff slog? The Bulls’ season ended when Derrick Rose blew out his knee.

C.J. Watson is getting most of the blame, and he certainly was awful (again), jacking up bad shots in crunch time and frequently unable to get the Bulls into any semblance of a smooth offensive set. And he made the worst decision of the game, passing to Omer Asik, one of the league’s worst foul shooters, when the Sixers had to foul in the closing seconds.

Asik bricked the free throws, opening the door for Andre Iguodala to win it at the line a few moments later, so the big guy gets some of the blame, too.

But let me repeat: We are complaining that C.J. Watson and Omer Asik could not win the game for the Bulls.

C.J. Watson.

And Omer Asik.

Solid backups. This, in fact, was probably the best game of Asik’s NBA career. But this is what it had come to, with Rose and Joakim Noah injured: Their backups, perhaps the eighth- and ninth-best players on the team, had the game in their hands in the end.

Don’t cry for this loss. The Bulls were dead already.

Box Score

Series: Sixers win, 4-2

Game 5: Bulls 77, Sixers 69

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Luol Deng: 24 points (.632 TS%), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
2. Taj Gibson: 8 points (.508 TS%), 7 rebounds (3 offensive), 4 blocks
3. Carlos Boozer: 19 points (.455 TS%), 13 rebounds, 6 assists

One more giant defensive effort, grabbing an opponent by the throat and throttling them into submission with quick rotations, fierce traps, and hustle, hustle, hustle.

Everyone’s hurt — welcome to the club, Taj Gibson — and the backcourt still is a huge mess, with C.J. Watson and John Lucas in way over their heads and the Sixers doing a much better job defending Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver off the ball. But the Bulls do keep fighting. Win Thursday in Philly … and it’s home for Game 7?

We can dream, can’t we?

Box Score

Series: Sixers lead, 3-2
Next: Game 6, Thursday 5/10 at Philadelphia, 6:00 CT

Game 4: Sixers 89, Bulls 82

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Taj Gibson: 14 points (.568 TS%), 12 rebounds, 4 blocks
2. Carlos Boozer: 23 points (.471 TS%), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
3. C.J. Watson: 17 points (.412 TS%), 6 rebounds, 4 assists

There are teams the Bulls could consistently beat without Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and a healthy Luol Deng. But the Sixers are not among them.

Evan Turner was right: This is a great matchup for Philadelphia, one of the few teams that can match Chicago’s bench strength. Robbed of that usual advantage, robbed of their best two and a half players, the Bulls have to slog it out for 48 minutes and hope for the best.

Sunday, like Friday, they came up just short. Unless they can win three in a row, their season will come to a stunningly early end, perhaps as early as tomorrow night.

The basketball gods, more than any other factor, are the chief culprit.

Box Score

Series: Sixers lead, 3-1
Next: Game 5, Tuesday 5/8 vs. Philadelphia, 8:30 CT

Game 3: Sixers 79, Bulls 74

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Rip Hamilton: 17 points (.419 TS%), 6 rebounds, 7 assists
2. Joakim Noah: 12 points (.685 TS%), 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, immeasurable heart
3. Carlos Boozer: 18 points (.529 TS%), 10 rebounds, 2 steals

In the increasingly possible event that this once promising season ends in the first round, I hope Bulls fans don’t turn on these players in anger.

With the occasional exception of Carlos Boozer, this is a group that gives everything they have, nearly every minute, quarter and game. I’m more sad than angry about the way this series is playing out with Derrick Rose gone, Joakim Noah probably gone and Luol Deng exhausted or injured or simply in a funk.

I mean, did you see how hard Noah tried to keep playing after folding his left ankle at a 90-degree angle? He went down screaming … and stayed in, and kept trying for a minute before limping off … and came back, and tried again, looking even worse than before.

He looked like a horse that needed to be put down, trying to run on a broken leg.

It was heart-breaking, honestly, but it confirmed my belief that this is a special group and this has been a special season, no matter how they go out in the playoffs. Which might be soon.

Box Score

Series: Sixers lead, 2-1
Next: Game 4, Sunday 5/6 at Philadelphia, 12:00 CT

Game 2: Sixers 109, Bulls 92

Three Stars (leaderboard)
1. Joakim Noah: 21 points (.884 TS%), 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 5 assists
2. John Lucas: 15 points (.625 TS%), 4 assists
3. C.J. Watson: 12 points (.505 TS%), 3 assists

I can’t say if the Rosettes were psychologically out of sorts after losing their leading man, but that second half, especially the third quarter, was some of the worst basketball Chicago has seen all season. We can’t have a repeat of that Friday.

And for anyone hoping Carlos Boozer would take charge offensively … well, he scored nine points on 10 shots. He isn’t the answer. He’s a passive scorer and bad defender who can’t rebound outside his immediate area. Remind me again what he does to earn his $60 million?

Box Score

Series: Tied 1-1
Next: Game 3, Friday 5/4 at Philadelphia, 7:00 CT

Wailing, Gnashing of Teeth

Neil at Got ‘Em Coach is one of the smartest, most creative bloggers on the NBA scene, and he’s got all the apoplectic rants you could want about Derrick Rose, David Stern and the condensed, accelerated schedule that more than one intelligent observer blames for the reigning MVP’s potentially career-altering knee injury.

And just when I was starting to make some peace with the injustice of it all.

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