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Hoiberg's Poor Crunch Time Management

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Fred Hoiberg made crucial mistakes at the end of the game to give the Suns the victory.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bulls should have won last night's game.

This wasn't a situation of one team outplaying another. It was a case of the Bulls giving the game away with multiple mental mistakes, both from players and coach Fred Hoiberg.

Hoiberg seemed agitated in what was the shortest post-game press conference of the year:



Hoiberg looked pained fielding those questions. He knew he blew this one with poor coaching. He stated in the presser, "Subbed a little offense defense, made a couple mistakes...Of course you think about that."

What Hoiberg is referring to is a key sequence in the last 40 seconds of the game. NBA Sportsbettor and twitter celebrity Haralabos Voulgaris was particularly critical of Hoiberg's game management:

Here's what Bob is referring to:

With the score tied 101-101, the Bulls recovered a jump ball. Derrick Rose began dribbling upcourt and Fred Hoiberg called a timeout.

This was Hoiberg's first mistake. He should have called a timeout directly after securing the jump ball or waited until Rose crossed half court. Instead, he called timeout here, after a few Rose dribbles:



It may seem trivial, but this turned out to be extremely important. By calling the timeout in such a strange spot, the Bulls were forced to inbound far in the backcourt, wasting precious seconds. Had Hoiberg waited or called timeout immediately, the Bulls would have gotten the ball in the frontcourt.

The timing of this last sequence is critical. With ~40 seconds left on the clock, the Bulls should have been poised to get a 2 for 1. If the Bulls had shot the ball with 32-34 seconds left, they would have almost guaranteed that they had 2 quality shots in a tie game to Phoenix's one.

Instead, the Suns cleverly feigned pressure to force the Bulls to take extra time and throw it even further in the back court:


Hoiberg handicapped himself severely in his ATO play by forcing the Bulls to inbound far back here.

He and/or Rose made another mistake by not shooting the ball fast enough on this first possession. The Bulls should have gotten a shot off with 32-34 seconds. Instead, Rose let the ball go at the 30.7 second mark.



Once again, a large reason for this was because of that weird timeout. If Hoiberg calls timeout after the jump ball, the Bulls get the ball in the front court with 41 seconds. Instead, they have to throw the ball backwards into the back court with 38.5 left. Hoiberg compounds the problem by drawing up a play that takes too long, and the Bulls don't get the time management right to get a good 2 for 1.

The Suns rebounded the ball with :28 on the game clock, a 4 second differential. That's not quite enough time for the Bulls to get a quality look on their second chance even if they had rebounded the ball cleanly on Phoenix's last possession.

Let's get to that last Phoenix possession, which was a total dumpster fire for the Bulls:


Jeff Hornacek made a very smart move by not calling a timeout and letting the guys play after recovering Rose's miss. Hoiberg had subbed in Gasol and Mirotic after his timeout, so both had to stay out and play defense.

As a result, the Suns ran a nice play, getting a wide open corner 3 for Jon Leuer because of Gasol's slow footspeed. The Bulls got very lucky that Leuer missed that shot. They couldn't escape luck again though, as nobody boxed out Teletovic. You can debate if it was a foul or not, but the Bulls should never have been in that position in the first place if they had boxed out or if Hoiberg had better rebounders out there.

The saving grace is that this was just an early regular season game. I think Hoiberg deserves harsh criticism for last night, but I don't agree with Haralabos that this game is indicative of Hoiberg's coaching acumen in general.

Fred Hoiberg can learn from this and become a better coach in the future.