Game Notes: Nuggets at Bulls
Trent Tucker strikes again.
It seems that the ghost of Trent Tucker is still haunting the Chicago Bulls. Back on January 15, 1990 at Madison Square Garden, the Bulls lost to the New York Knicks 106-109 on a three-point shot by Tucker with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. It seemed impossible that such a shot like that could be made given the amount of time left and the replays clearly showed that the clock didn’t start until after the ball was out of Tucker’s hands, not when he touched it as it should’ve been. The Bulls protested, but the ruling of the game stood. But with so much controversy surrounding the shot, it prompted the League to add a new rule to its official rulebook that says this:
NO LESS THAN :00.3 must expire on the game clock when a player secures possession of an inbounds pass and then attempts a field goal. If less than :00.3 expires in such a situation, the timer will be instructed to deduct AT LEAST :00.3 from the game clock. If less than :00.3 remain on the game clock when this situation occurs, the period is over, and the field goal attempt will be disallowed immediately whether successful or unsuccessful.
So by rule, it is possible for a player to get a shot off in three-tenths of a second and Brad Miller’s miraculous buzzer beater last night should have counted. But it didn’t and the Bulls lost a heartbreaker to the Denver Nuggets that overshadowed a lot of good things that the team accomplished on the floor last night. And not surprisingly, the interpretation of the rule is still unclear.
“I always thought 0.3 seconds was enough to get a shot off,” said Joakim Noah after the loss. He added, “The way Brad threw it up—he didn’t follow through or anything—I thought it was definitely good… How could you overrule it? There definitely wasn’t enough evidence.” The officials, as is their custom, refused to comment on the call after the game and as Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said, “I thought it was good when I saw it initially, but it’s irrelevant… Once they [the officials] made their decision, they’re gone.”
George Karl on the other hand—who notched win number 939 and passed the legendary Red Auerbach for 8th place in NBA history—saw things a little differently. “I had just read the rule book a couple of weeks ago,” he said after his team narrowly escaped the jaws of defeat. “You can’t pivot and make a shot with three-tenths of a second.” Said Chauncey Billups after the victory, “They were dancing and jumping around like they had just made the Sweet 16… That was a great ending man, it was fun. But that’s the NBA.”
After huddling over the courtside monitor after what seemed like forever, the officials determined that the shot was still on Miller’s fingertips as time expired and the shot was ruled no good. It was a tough way to go out after battling the Nuggets for 48 minutes and then having the final outcome decided by three guys huddling over a TV. Asked if he was a fan of the NBA’s instant replay system, Brad Miller responded with, “Not right now.”
Yes, it would’ve been great for the team to have gotten the victory last night, and the way that they lost only overshadowed all of the good things that happened on the floor last night, starting with the performance of one Joakim Simon Noah. As I watched him do his thing and score 12 points and grab a career-high 21 rebounds (15 defensive and 6 offensive) , I couldn’t help but think to myself that we were watching the second coming of Dennis Rodman, only taller, and with the ability to do more than just work the glass. He almost outrebounded Kenyon Martin and Nene by himself who combined for 22 boards and he battled both on the glass all night long and didn’t let up for one second. He may not be a dominant low-post scorer, but his effort and hustle will keep the Bulls in a lot of games and give them lots of second chance opportunities. If he keeps continuing to play the way that he has been, there’s no doubt in my mind that he shouldn’t be named the NBA’s most improved player. I know it’s only seven games into the season and it’s still early, but I’m convinced there isn’t another player in the League that has improved as much from last season to this season like Noah has.
Derrick Rose also looked very good last night and virtually neutralized Billups’ contributions on the floor, especially during the last five minutes of the fourth quarter—as the Bulls were chipping away at the Nuggets lead—as the intensity in the United Center was rising, he took and made some very big and very clutch shots, keeping his team in the thick of things.
The most impressive performance of the night which in my opinion was the masterful defensive job by Luol Deng on Carmelo Anthony who had been scorching opposing teams in the League. The way he’s been playing of late, I came into the United Center thinking he might drop 50 on the Bulls. But Deng had other ideas as he held Melo to just 20 points on 8-22 shooting from the field. He made Melo work hard all night and that’s pretty much all you can ask a guy to do on a player who’s third in the NBA in scoring.
Still, the Bulls are who we thought they were. They’re a young, scrappy team that’s going to battle hard every night and give themselves every possible chance to win. I know that there are no moral victories in sports, but the Bulls have a lot to be proud of in terms of the way that they played last night and as fans filed out of the United Center, no one was hanging their heads, they were proud of their team too. And why shouldn’t they be? There isn’t another team in the League that gives their fans more enjoyment and more excitement than the Chicago Bulls right now. Last night truly was “Fan Night” in the United Center and whether you’re a fan of the Bulls, Nuggets, or just basketball in general, last night truly was an example of why “We love this game” and why NBA basketball is “So Amazing.”