Kind of the last thing you would want in the final game of the season, a really tough contest that went into overtime. And worse yet, a loss for all their troubles, locking them into a 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.
It looked like it'd be easier early, as the Bulls started out very well defensively in this game and held the Bobcats to a 3/16 stretch to start the game and an early 10-point lead. But the Bobcats are kind of a tough team, with a facsimile of the Thibs defensive system that forced the Bulls then go on one a couple of scoring droughts they'd have on the night. A 20-6 run by the Bobcats got them the lead by halftime.
The 3rd quarter was a tough back-and-forth affair, with some sensational hustle plays by both teams' big men. A turning point occurred with under a minute to play when Kirk Hinrich fouled out and Kemba Walker's FTs tied the game. A missed Taj baseline jumper on the other end meant the 'Cats had a chance to win as the 4th expired, but a step-back jumper by Kemba Walker just missed.
The Bulls seemingly ran out of gas in those final minutes, not scoring in the final 2:27, and it carried over into OT. The Bulls missed their first 9 field goals of the extra period, until a Noah jumper with 30-seconds left when the game was already decided. Meanwhile, Walker led his team offensively and capped off a very good night: 22 points (10-11 from the line), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and zero turnovers in under 40 minutes. The rest of the scoring was really balanced, with Chris Douglas-Roberts the second-highest scorer with 13 points.
The Bulls were lead by DJ Augustin's 17, but it was on 16 attempts and he was getting torched often defensively. It's almost frightening how dependent the Bulls are on DJ to be great to win, as merely good in their last couple of losses wasn't enough. The Bulls had several solid performances but no standouts, sort of expected I suppose in an OT game with an 91-86 final score. Jimmy Butler was productive, having 5 steals with his 12 points. Hinrich shot 3-5 from three and his absence was missed late for sure. Both Noah and especially Taj Gibson (2-10 from the field) had difficulty finishing inside, though Noah was otherwise as great as usual.
The real bummer is that Noah had to play over 42 minutes, joining Dunleavy and Butler (nearly 48) as those who had to go over 40 tonight. The Bulls will be playing Sunday night in game 1 of the playoffs, though it's still up in the air who they'll be facing.