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Game Thread #3 - Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs

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::flinches::

Kindof like knowing you're gonna get punched, but hoping it's not in the face.

behind enemy lines: Pounding the Rock | Spur of the Moment

Update: Well, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. The Bulls played hard and were not intimidated by the defending champs, forcing them to overtime.

My recording stopped a minute or so into overtime. After a profanity-laden tirade at my misfortune, I checked out the play-by-play. Turns out I didn't miss much, as they didn't score in the last 3 minutes, losing 104-95.

After several players laid an egg in New Jersey, nearly everyone contributed tonight. Chandler opened up real strong trying to assume the Eddy Curry role of the night, scoring 9 points on 4-4 shooting in his first rotation. Tyson and other goats from the previous game in Songaila and Nocioni were the halftime scoring leaders. Eddie Basden got in his first career game and his first basket came shortly after. In a similarly momentous achievement, it was Wayne "I'll broadcast anything" Larivee's first misidentification of the rookie as he called him Chris Duhon. (Congrats rook, it won't be the last time Wayne thinks you're a Green Bay Packer or on a Big10 football team or something)

The Bulls amazingly had only 1 turnover for the half, but the Spurs played even better shooting 55% and led at the half by 8. Their largest lead was 15, and in stretches they looked unstoppable on both ends. Just one look at a Duncan/Nesterovic front line tells you how they play such great defense.

In the 3rd, new faces stepped up to lead, as Luol Deng and Ben Gordon had 17 points and the Bulls were only down 1 to end the 3rd. And after Tyson got hurt at the 8 minute mark in the 4th (he did return), Mike Sweetney made up for some earlier lapses (Skiles benched him most of the 1st half) with a few active minutes on both ends. Like I said, nearly everyone got in the act.

Skiles really went small at times in the 2nd half, with lineups of Duhon/Hinrich/Basden/Deng/Chandler in the 3rd, and Hinrich/Gordon/Deng/Nocioni/Sweetney in the 4th. It seemed to work in spurts as the Bulls all game forced the issue on both ends, finishing the game with a rare edge in both turnovers (12-15) and FreeThrow Attempts (25-23). They were only down 2 in rebounding to the much bigger Spurs, so the effort and aggressiveness were there like usual, but with production from a frontcourt which was pretty bad in Jersey.

Maybe I'm too optimistic since my viewing experience didn't include the overtime period, thus avoiding a look at that mess. But the Bulls didn't come across tonight like some scrappy team keeping close with no business truly matching the Spurs. They showed off their depth and Skiles kept the substitutions coming and they nearly pulled off the upset. Sure in the end they were overmatched by the champs, but during the game I couldn't help think that when everyone is playing at their level, this will be a pretty good team.

Recap | BoxScore | GameFlow