Celtics Foul Up Bulls Hopes in Game 5 Victory


Apr 28

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Perhaps it wasn’t Shakespearean. But to the Bulls Tuesday it was a game most foul, especially at the end as the Boston Celtics hung on in yet another overtime game in this remarkable series and defeated the Bulls 106-104 to take a 3-2 lead with Game 6 in Chicago Thursday.

For the Bulls, the tragedy was losing this game they led by 11 in the fourth quarter. It would end with the Bulls furious about what they believed was a flagrant foul failed to be called against the Celtics on Brad Miller, who sprung open as the defense collapsed toward Ben Gordon.

Miller drove and was hammered by Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, seemingly knocked woozy and spitting blood and in need of stitches to close a cut in his mouth.

The score was 106-104 with two seconds left and Miller missed the first free throw. He purposely missed the second, but it missed the rim, giving the Celtics possession and the final margin.

The Bulls were led by Ben Gordon with 26 points despite his strained hamstring. He played 51 minutes, but shot six of 21.

Rondo, who said he was just trying for a hard foul at the ball on the last play, led the Celtics with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds while Paul Pierce had 26 points, including three consecutive big jumpers in overtime on the same play to provide the winning points. Perkins had 16 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks while Joakim Noah had 11 points and 17 rebounds.

But when it was over the Bulls were less appreciative of this fabulously contested series than they were about the hard foul against Miller they believed was over the line. Also, Perkins appeared to hit the rim or net on Miller’s last shot which could or should have been a goaltending and possible three-point play for the potential win. Reporters asked Bulls players about that but no one said they saw that.

“Paul is a great shot maker and every time they needed a shot he seemed to come through for them,” said Gordon. “There’s no way I’m not going to play (Thursday). I’m going to continue to get treatment. I’ll try to stay off it as much as possible until the next game. We’ve just got to bounce back mentally. We’ve got to give it our all. We’ve got to be ready. I didn’t feel that great. I couldn’t really accelerate or push off like I wanted to. I was just happy to be out there to help my team.

“It’s been a very competitive series,” said Gordon. “It’s very disappointing to have the kind of lead we had and let them come back into the game. He (Miller) had to get stitches. That pretty much tells it all right there. We thought that would be (a flagrant). He got hit in the face or head. It didn’t go our way. I seen him spitting blood on the floor. To me, that’s not a basketball play. I thought for sure it would be a flagrant foul. Things like this happen in the NBA. What are you going to do? We got a Game 6 on Thursday. I’m looking forward to it.”

Said Miller: “We got a lot of guys getting head shots this series. Everyone’s had to shake off these high hits they’ve been putting on. It was a good shot to take to the head. I didn’t see it, but I felt it. There’s still no excuse (for missing the first free throw). There was blood on the floor. One tooth (was loose). You’ll have to ask them how many stitches they put in. I was spun backward with the forearm shiver to the face. They were just trying to get it to stop bleeding. I shut my eyes until they told me they were done (with the stitching). I should be all right. It was a hell of a hit.”

Also a heck of a game, the first time in NBA history a playoff series has had three overtime games.

Kirk Hinrich, who was terrific off the bench with 19 points and whom the Celtics were saying afterward that stopping him was the key to the series, also left with stitches, four over the right eye.

The Bulls had done a good job most of the game trapping Pierce, but left John Salmons on him alone on those fateful overtime jumpers.

“I thought about doubling him a lot, but the problem is that the Celtics do such a good job and he fades away and he’s 6-8 and it’s his spot,” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. “He hits some tough fadeaway shots with hands in his face. That’s what great players do, they make big plays. That’s something we’ll talk about again, but we’ve come with double teams, we’ve come with single teams, we’ve come off bigs, we’ve come off littles, and he’s seen it all. He’s an All-Star player for a reason, so it’s a tough set and we just have to fight through.”

“You have to go for the basketball and [Rondo] didn’t come near the basketball,” Del Negro said about the last play. “He came right across his face so the ball was extended, it was out, and he came right across. I thought it was a flagrant, and I thought it was a physical call. I agree that it is a playoff foul, but you still have to call it, and I’m sure that will be addressed and they’ll take a look at it.”

I’ll have more from this game on a later post…

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