by Russ Bengtson
According to ESPN.com’s Chris “The Machine” Sheridan, if the Bulls lose tonight, the Bulls signing of Ben Wallace was a mistake. More or less. According to me, I don’t think so. I feel like Big Ben has already imparted a lot of wisdom to his young teammates—probably more by actions than words, but still—and can only help in the continued development of Tyrus Thomas, among others. What’s $60 million to an NBA team anyway?
No body checking tonight, please. And preferably no fishing hats. Not just because I’m a Bulls fan, but because I’d like to see Detroit have to play as long as possible.
The Czar! Wonder if he and Doug Collins share a colorist?
Luol with his first jumper, right over the top of Tayshaun Prince. Rasheed misses short on the other end, but Rip Hamilton is there to clean it up. And Kirk Hinrich buries a jumper over Webber. Prince ties it up at 4.
Ben Gordon hits his first shot as well, a deep three. And P.J. Brown hits HIS first shot, a baseline jumper. Ben Wallace where you at?
Rip again, off a loose ball. And Kirk comes back with a three, doubling up Detroit early, 12-6. Billups misses a three, P.J. corrals the rebound, and Ben Wallace gets on the board with a layup from P.J. On the other end, Rasheed spins baseline and is fouled by P.J., who has a bucket, a rebound, an assist and a foul all in the last minute. Impressive.
With all the talk about Baron Davis’s playoff beard, I feel like Rasheed’s is getting the short end of the stick.
P.J. Brown again! It’s worth noting that he’s 67 years old. The Bulls are 7-8 from the floor.
And P.J. with a goaltend on Rip.
BG. Jumper. 18-10, Bulls.
Webber with a dunk after putting up zeroes in the last two games, and the Bulls get their second miss. Time out, Detroit.
Ben Gordon, finally on. Three of four, Bulls up 20-12.
Rip’s got eight already, including that pair of free throws he just hit. And Ben Wallace gets fouled and heads to the line for an adventure. Short, long, Webber rebound.
Rasheed isoed against P.J. in the post, nothing doing. And Deng hits another baseline 18-footer. And Rasheed answers from deep. 22-16, Bulls.
I’m pretty sure Mike Fratello just referred to P.J. Browm (who just went 1-2 from the line courtesy of Rasheed Wallace) as one of the best—or something—young men in our League. Even ignoring the “young” part, didn’t he piledrive Charlie Ward into the baseline once?
Um. Hm. Billups three, Hamilton pull-up, Brown dunk. 25-21, Bulls. And Antonio McDyess gets his first bucket, and Deng hits on a drive down the lane. Prince misses over Andres Nocioni (on the rotation) and McDyess dunks it back. Chris Duhon answers. McDyess misses from a little beyond his range, Hinrich rebounds, drives, and hits an off-balance layup passing McDyess with 1.4 seconds left in the quarter, and the Bulls lead 31-25 after 1.
Chris Webber, pair of free throws. He is now averaging 1.3 ppg over the past three games. Monster! Hinrich misses an open three, and McDyess tries an ill-advised dribble-drive. Hey, remember when the Knicks traded Marcus Camby AND the pick that became Nene for him? Hinrich misses another three, but the Bulls corral the rebound and get it back to Kirk, who doesn’t miss his second chance. 34-27, Bulls. He then picks up his second foul, and heads to the bench for Gordon. Flip Murray checks in as well, who’ll have to find somebody else to dunk on.
The Pistons get a couple of offensive rebounds, then throw the ball away. Nocioni misses, and Thabo Sefolosha ties up McDyess. Detroit chooses to soundtrack the jumpball with House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” How original. Does any arena in the universe not use either that or Van Halen’s “Jump”?
Sefolosha fouls Rip, who makes one of two, and Brown finds Thomas with an alley-oop over Delfino. He follows that up with a block on a driving Hamilton (thus reversing the order of his usual block-and-a-dunk combo), and Duhon drops a three. 39-28, Bulls, their biggest lead of the night. Time. Out.
Flip miss, Sheed follow. The Pistons have nine offensive boards, otherwise this game wouldn’t even be close. Thabo from the baseline with a jumper, good, back to 11. The Pistons are in a zone, man—defense, that is.
Dyess misses from up top, and Gordon hits another J. 43-30, Chicago.
Rip again. Actually, it’s offensive rebounds and Rip keeping the Pistons in this. And Thomas scores again. The Bulls are on an 11—make that 13—3 run with Hinrich on the bench. Thomas with a soaring dunk on the break. BG picks up his third foul with five-plus minutes remaining in the half.
Welcome back, Hinrich. Although BG stays in, and drops another jumper. Sheed counters, and Thomas turns it over trying to force a pass. Sheed misses a three, and Wallace fouls Jason Maxiell on the putback attempt. Incidentally, either the numbers on the front of Maxiell’s jersey are tiny, or he’s the size of a house.
The Bulls break the full-court trap—barely—Deng hits on a runner, knocking over Maxiell, and they call the block. Looked fair to me, but I’m biased. 52-37, Bulls. Maxiell responds with a tough layup underneath, and Hinrich throws it away. Rasheed hits a deep two off a blown rotation (because Hinrich flopped trying to draw a foul, and had trouble rotating while sitting on the floor), and it’s 52-41. Time out.
Out of the time out, Gordon hits a three over the rapidly closing D. He’s on fire tonight—6-7 for 14 points.
Someone hits a pair of free throws for Detroit, but I don’t care enough to sort out who. Look up the running if you want.
BG misses a runner that hangs on the rim long enough to screw up Wallace and Thomas from having a chance to put it back. And Billups bangs a three. Single digits. The Bulls lose possession, and Hinrich goes down again—gets called for a block on Billups with 1:31 to go. That’s three on both he and BG. Billups hits a pair, and the lead is seven. Bulls turnover, but a Prince corner three attempt bounces over the glass, and Deng hits again. 57-48 with less than a minute in the first half. And Billups hits another three, over Sefolosha. Bulls miss, but get a second chance. They call time with 9.5 seconds to go.
Inbounds, Lindsey Hunter falls down, Gordon pops the jumper, and Bulls lead 59-51 after 1. The Bulls are shooting something like 99.8 percent from the floor (OK, 72, but still). The second half is gonna be a dogfight (no Michael Vick).
I love Charles Barkley, but he’s 100 percent wrong on the Suns suspension situation. Just because Amare and Boris didn’t throw punches don’t make them innocent. Hell, if they HAD thrown punches, they would have been suspended for a lot more than one game. But that’s enough about that.
Fratello mentions Detroit’s “huge” 11-2 offensive rebounding margin. THE BULLS ARE SHOOTING 72 PERCENT! Don’t you need to, you know, miss shots to get offensive rebounds? The Bulls have missed 10 shots ALL NIGHT.
They start things off with a defensive rebound, and P.J. hits a 20-footer from up top. Back to a 10-point Bulls lead. Tayshaun, upfake, stepup, jumper. Splash. And P.J. scores again inside. Free agent year! Tayshaun comes right back with a layup of his own. P.J. drives and tries a fancy dropoff to Big Ben that’s thankfully deflected out of bounds. Brown misses off the inbounds, and Deng scores on an OFFENSIVE REBOUND. Fancy that.
Prince hits (again) from the corner with the clock expiring, and Deng attacks right away, drawing the foul on Billups. Both. Fifteen for Deng.
Webber with a MEAN up-and-under reverse dunk on Ben Wallace. Man. Like the old Michigan days. He even gives a throwback stare.
Ben Wallace to the line. Hits the first, misses the second badly. Gordon rips Rip, drives, and is fouled by Billups. That’s three on CB. Hinrich misses a three, and Tayshaun gets a dunk in transition. He’s got 11 points, and seemingly all of them have come in the last two minutes.
Hinrich misses, the Pistons can’t do anything, and P.J. scores again. He’s got 13. Billups—offensive foul! That’s four with 7:36 to go in the third. Deng hits over Prince, and the Bulls are back up 10. Hunter misses a WIDE OPEN three, Sheed corrals the rebound, he can’t hit, Webber comes up with it, is blocked by Big Ben, the Pistons recover again, and Webber gets another dunk that’s a lot like the last one. CGI?
Hinrich, for three, good. Zonebusters!
Rip gets blocked by Deng with the weakside help, and Gordon gets fouled by Webber. And Rasheed Wallace goes insane. Not even sure why. Time out.
Rasheed got a T. This is not a shock. Ben Gordon hits that free throw, and Sheed is still talking. Gordon then hits two more to stretch the Bulls lead to 14, 78-64. 5:31 to go in the third. Sheed misses the fallaway, and the Bulls get the rebound. Pistons get it back on a Bulls miss, and Sheed misses a three that ends up out of bounds. Aaaand, Hinrich turns it right back over. Sheed misses again on a baseline turnaround, and it’s back out of bounds to the Bulls. Bulls miss, Pistons miss (block) and Hinrich is fouled by Hunter. Have you called Lindsey yet? Both. 80-64 Bulls with 3:52 to go.
Webber misses a three, Thomas rebounds, Deng misses in transition, and Thomas follows up the miss with a nasty dunk over the top of Webber. 82-64 Bulls. Time out, Detroit. Bulls have been on a 12-2 run since Chauncey took a seat.
Thomas eith a deflection on an entry pass to Webber, a lot of ball movement, and Ben Gordon splashes another three. The Bulls have their biggest lead of the night, 85-64, with 2:30 to go in the third. Webber’s fouled by Wallace, hits one of two. Hinrich off a screen, over Prince, good. Dyess gets Thomas to bite, hits a jumper, and BG comes RIGHT BACK with his 25th point. This is as on-fire as the Bulls have been all year long. McDyess, again. Billups is back for the final minute and a half.
Wallace to Deng to Thomas for the dunk. 92-69. Maxiell misses, Duhon comes away with it, and Gordon misses a three finally. Billups hits over Duhon, Bulls hold for pretty much a last shot. Deng stumbles, misses, 24-second violation on the Bulls. Pistons with 4 seconds to go. Billups misses a runner, and it’s 92-71 Bulls after three. You live by the jumpshot, you die by the jumpshot, and tonight the Bulls are LIVIN’.
P.J. Brown with the rare miss. Detroit comes up with it, and can’t do anything. Deng rebounds. As Fratello points out, the Pistons have to put something together. Yes, that would probably be a good idea.
Turnover, turnover, turnover, Thomas foul on Maxiell. Someday, Tyrus Thomas will learn not to bite on the upfake. Probably not tonight, though.
Ben Gordon’s fourth foul sends Antonio McDyess to the line and Gordon to the bench. Dyess hits both. And Thomas drives in and draws a foul on Rasheed who isn’t terribly happy about it. Thomas misses both anyway.
Duhon fouls up top, and that’s three team fouls on the Bulls with 10:21 to go. And McDyess hits a jumper from up top. 92-75, under 10 minutes. Thomas misses a free-throw line jumper (not his shot, really), but Dyess turns it over underneath. The Bulls burn some clock, and Duhon hits a corner three. Bulls back up 20.
Rasheed’s jumper goes in and out, and Hinrich throws a careless entry pass that gets deflected. Duhon commits the foul, and someone calls for time.
RASHEED! The fans sure love that guy.
Rasheed with a corner three, and Gordon responds. He’s got 28. The Bulls are at 101 with SIX MINUTES PLUS to go. Lead back to 20.
SPLIT-SCREEN! Deng and-one, Detroit responds, Chicago re-responds, Pistons miss, Bulls miss.
Bulls by 23 with 4 and a half.
The Palace is EMPTY. Fair-weather fans.
Forget the rest of the play by play. No need. Because, you know, Nazr Mohammed is in the game.
Final score, 108-92 Bulls.
Wow. I expected the Bulls to compete tonight, but a wire-to-wire victory (more or less) that turned into a blowout in the third quarter? Didn’t see that coming. But pretty much all the Bulls shooters got hot at the same time, Tyrus Thomas put his athleticnessability to work, and P.J. Brown played like he was no older than 35.
On the Detroit side, things fell apart. Rip Hamilton got his, and Webber scored, but Billups got in foul trouble and Rasheed couldn’t put anything together in the second half.
Still, this was a failing of the Detroit defense as much of anything, as they gave up 90-plus points in three quarters. Nothing much worked. And a series that was once 3-0 is now 3-2. And as they head back home, confidence recharged, isn’t it safe to say that the momentum is tipped Chicago’s way? And if they do win Game Six, anything can happen in a Game Seven. No matter what the percentages say.
P.S. The shorts and the Perrier? Consider them retired.