It's easier (and carries more gravitas) to say that the game against Detroit (and other close games) came down to one or two plays. Like Gordon missing the game-ending three, or Prince's block on a Deng fast break, or Webber's push&board&layup. But I'd advise against limiting the scope of analysis to that degree, or (even worse) making generalizations based off of them. Such as Gordon not being a 'clutch player' because he missed that shot.
There were several reasons the Bulls lost, but one stretch that really cost them occurred at the end of the third quarter, when in a matter of minutes Gordon, Brown, and Hinrich were replaced by Duhon, Thomas and Griffin. The time is nearly 4 minutes left in the quarter and the Bulls up 12. Unfortunately I can't go Clipperblog-esque in-depth with the DVR, so I'll just turn to the play-by-play. Here's what occurred over these possessions.
- Wallace offensive foul (+ Technical Foul)
- Griffin misses jumper
- Wallace misses 2 free throws
- Griffin's layup is blocked
- Thomas turnover
- Duhon turnover
- Griffin misses layup
Then, and only after then (with 2 seconds left in the quarter and the lead down to two) does Luol Deng attempt a shot, a tip in try off of Griffin's miss.
So with 4 minutes and in a lineup featuring Luol Deng and a bunch of non-scorers (Kirk was in there for a minute of that), the Bulls get no points.
So you can chalk it up to 'losing poise' or whatever, but both Deng and the team need to realize in that situation that he's the only scorer on the court (granted, getting a Sweetney or Thabo out there could help matters) and get him (or in Deng's case, take) some shots.
There were other unfortunate trends all game, like the lack of foul shots, and (not coincidentally) the starting backcourt being in constant foul trouble. And instead of coming up with a simple yet un-correlating reason for failure, you can use this equally simple yet better one: When your best 3 players all don't play well, it's hard to win.
Hopefully those lack of minutes for Hinrich and Gordon emit a silver lining tonight and counteracts any drain this 4th game in 5 nights may bring. The Magic are reeling, but are still likely a playoff team in the East. Win tonight and the Bulls will have beaten 3 of 4 such teams in a week. Not too bad, despite the loss in Detroit.
This is an open game thread, and an un-supervised one at that (I'll be at the game). I will be right back here upon return and will mark lame posts with a scarlet 'L'...