Friday night’s Game 3 was a battle and the Bulls found themselves on the wrong side of the score once again at 94-104. The game turned ugly early on when our beloved Joakim Noah pushed Chris “Birdman” Anderson while he was on the ground after fouling Nate Robinson to earn a technical. That was a careless mistake on Noah’s part. The way this series has gone thus far, technicals are given out like White Sox tickets and Noah found himself one away from an ejection.
To make matters worse, Nazr Mohammed was ejected from the game in the second quarter. It started when Mohammed committed a smart foul at the half court strip to stop James from leading a fast break. James flailed is arms like an old man falling down the stairs and elbowed Mohammed. Mohammed retaliated by shoving James with both hands, knocking him to the ground. Although it was a senseless play, Bulls fans everywhere celebrated watching King James fall on his ass.
Muhammad walked back to the locker room in a sea of praise and high-fives. But what is there to cheer about? He cost his already-shorthanded team a body, a big body. By the end of the half the Chicago Bulls found themselves down by 2, 50-52.
Leading the way for the Chicago Bulls was Carlos Boozer. The big man we can barely jump over a phone book finished with 21 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field, but proved again to be a major defensive liability by not rotating late in the game. Unfortunately it’s what Bulls fans have had to deal with since his signing.
Jimmy “Get Buckets” Butler also had a respectable game, with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting. He was guarding James and seemed to make it tough on him at times, which is a feat all in itself. And despite the careless mistake Noah made early, the heart, hustle and muscle of the Chicago Bulls finished with another great stat line of 15 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Marco Belinelli also hit some big shots and finished with 16 points.
The Chicago Bulls were tied with the Miami Heat going into the fourth quarter, 70-70. The game seemed to be going in the Bulls’ favor; gritty, hard fought, and limiting fast breaks. They had a realistic chance of taking Game 3.
LeBron James had a not-so-MVP performance in the first 3 quarters, but ended up coming through for his team when it matters most, scoring 12 points in the fourth. I for one thought that shove by Mohammed had him rattled, but maybe we should just credit Butler and the Bulls for playing tough D.
Miami also got a fantastic game out of Norris Cole. The back-up point guard was 6 of 7 from the field, 3 of 3 from long range, and finished with 18 points. Chris Bosh, who Bulls fans love to pick on, shut us all up with a monster performance of 20 points and a career best post-season 19 rebounds. Oh yeah, and Wade contributed 10 points. At 30 years old, it looks like Wade’s hard NBA minutes are starting to get the best of him.
At four minutes left in the fourth the Bulls found themselves down by two, 83-85. After a couple of late threes by James and Cole, the Heat took an 88-96 advantage with 1:48 remaining. Luckily for the Bulls, those early blunders by Noah and Mohammed held no relevance to the outcome of the game. However, fans are not saying the same about Joey Crawford and his crew of officials.
I am not one to blame officials for game outcomes, but even I couldn’t believe some of the calls made last night. Joey Crawford is notorious for going against the home team and looked to be living up to that reputation. I re-winded my DVR to watch the replay on the phantom reach foul Butler picked up on James. Crawford was right there! What the hell was he watching?!
With that being said, the Bulls lost Game 3 by letting Norris Cole score 18 points. They lost the game by giving up 19 rebounds to Bosh. They lost the game by giving up 12 fourth quarter points to James when the game was still within reach. The officials did not shoot 50% from the field and 40% from downtown. The Miami Heat did.
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