Late heroics lift Leo over Mount Carmel

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Late heroics lift Leo over Mount Carmel

Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
11:21 PM

By Patrick McGavin
YourSeason.com

Joshua Gilbert felt like his heart was his throat during the final dramatic seconds of Leos conference showdown at Mount Carmel.

Having fouled out with three minutes remaining, Gilbert had to watch the agonizing moments from a fixed perspective. I wanted to be out there, he said. As the final shot of the Caravan bounced off the rim as time expired, Gilbert had a moment to exhale.

The Leo senior guard scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight as the No. 16 Lions fought back from an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to outlast Mount Carmel 65-63 Friday night.

The Caravan seized its largest advantage at 56-48 with just under four minutes remaining. After two free throws by Paul Beene (19 points), Gilbert nailed a three-pointer from the left baseline with 3:22 remaining to pull the Lions within 56-53. On the ensuing possession, Gilbert was fouled attempting a three-point shot and converted all three to force a tie.

I really wanted that four-point play, Gilbert said. After I hit the first one, that gave me a lot of confidence. I just wanted to do whatever I had to help the team win.

Leo (7-0, 3-0 Catholic East) won despite having three starters foul out. Gilberts lay up concluded his personal 8-0 run and put the Lions up 58-56. Maurice Joiner, who scored all 10 of his points in the second half, scored on a put back that provided the Lions a lead it never relinquished.

Despite missing some critical free throws, Mount Carmel (5-3, 2-1) still had several chances in the closing moments. Alex Austin (14 points) converted two key free throws to pull the Caravan within two with 29 seconds remaining. After Joiner split two free throws for a 65-62 Leo advantage with 15.9 seconds to play, Malcolm Hill-Bey (19 points) was fouled going to the basket with 6.9 left. After hitting the first shot, he missed the second free throw.

Mount Carmel star guard Tracy Abrams (11 points) missed a three-pointer, but the Caravan maintained possession on the held ball with 1.2 seconds remaining. A final shot bounced off the rim.

We had that eight-point lead, but we didnt make good decisions offensively, Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty. We took some shots we didnt need to take instead of forcing them to come out and guard us defensively. Give Leo credit for making the plays at the end.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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