Beyond no-call, losing to Pacers stings for Bulls

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Beyond no-call, losing to Pacers stings for Bulls

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau didnt mince words after his teams 80-76 loss to the Pacers.In my eyes, he got wiped out, the coach said Tuesday night, still trying to control his rage at the officials swallowing their whistle at the conclusion of the game. He had a layup. It was a train wreck.But Im not going to put it on the officials. Weve still got to get it done. A tough call went against us.Thibodeau is right, on both counts. His teams lack of execution down the stretch, offensive droughts and inability to defend Pacers swingman Paul Georgewho had 34 points, nearly half of his squads outputkilled them.But in the end, that one play did them in. Trailing 78-76 with 14.1 seconds to go, Thibodeau drew up a beautiful play out of a timeout, with Luol Deng making a backdoor cut and receiving a pass from Joakim Noah on the baseline.Everything was perfect. Deng caught the pass, went up for layup and was met by massive Pacers center Roy Hibbert, seemingly drawing a foul, except no whistles sounded.Ive got to see it again, but I thought I got fouled. I havent seen it yet, said a despondent Deng afterwards. Im mad at myself that I didnt get a shot up. When he contacted me, I lost the ball, but if I would have got a shot up, even if I missed it, I think a teammate could have got the rebound. Thats the one thing Ive got to do better with that play.We designed it for me to cut back door, he continued. Jo made a good play. I saw he overplayed me, I cut back door and its just something I could have done better.It was a great play. Thats my fault. Ive got to finish that.Noah added: It was a non-call. The refs thought that he was straight up. Thats the last play of the game, but we didnt play well. Weve got to win these games and its unfortunate, but weve got to come back and respond tomorrow.Pacers head coach Frank Vogel saw it differently, calling it a heck of a defensive play by Hibbert.Hes the biggest reason why we lead the league in field-goal percentage defense. Its that play, thats the biggest reason. Hes the best in the league at exercising the fundamental of verticality. Hes in his lane and off his feet, making a legal defensive play and earning a no-call, he elaborated. Youre allowed to jump straight up. No matter where you are, youre allowed to jump straight up and absorb contact, and when he learned that and went away from trying to draw charges, like he was doing earlier in his career, he went from not being able to stay on the court to being one of the best defensive centers in the NBA.Regardless of that play, which certainly seemed like a foul to the naked eye at full speed and would have given Deng a chance to tie the game late, the Bulls compounded their issues with a host of mistakes throughout the contest. After backup point guard Nate Robinson led a fourth-quarter comeback to overtake the Pacers, unforced errors and difficulty getting quality shots became their biggest problems.We shot ourselves in the foot, Thibodeau said of his team, which shot 38.4 percent from the fieldIndiana was held to 36.3 percent shooting, but George was 14-of-25 form the floor by himselfand committed 19 turnovers on the evening. Theyre very good defensively. I knew it was going to be that type of game. Theyre a very good help team and youve got to keep the ball moving, and if you try to go one-on-one against them, youre going to have problems. Theyve got length. George is a great defender. Weve got to do better.Usually, turnovers comes down to one or two things. Either its too much one-on-one or trying to make a risky pass and not recognizing whats going on. You have to understand where you are in the game, how the game is being played, is it the fourth quarter, are you trying to thread the needle, are you dancing with the ball. If youre doing those things, its going to lead to turnovers, he added, before launching into why he would no longer tolerate the Bulls using a roster full of newcomers still familiarizing themselves with each other as a reason for their ball-security issues.
We said that in training camp. We said it after the first two weeks. At some point, youve got to say, Okay, weve been together 16 games, seven preseason games. Youre a pro player. Were not using that as an excuse. Weve got to do better.Robinson took the loss especially hard, blaming himself for the teams lack of poise with the ball in their handshis ill-timed alley-oop pass attempted for Joakim Noah stands out, but he wasnt the only culprit. Still, he took the bulk of the responsibility for the Bulls late-game execution.The no-call on Hibbert doesnt define the game. I think we had like 19 turnovers and I had four myself, so thats something weve got to do, take care of the ball down the stretch and for this loss, I definitely take the blame for this one. Just down the stretch, Ive got to be smarter with the ball, make the right plays and got to execute, he said. We got the shots that we wanted, we just didnt make them. Youre not going to make every shot each game. Youve got to play hard. We played through it, got stops when we needed them. Down the stretch, weve got to take care of the ball.We took the shots that they gave us, but I think we could have took better shots, as well, including myself. But for the most part, turnovers. Turnovers killed us today.Just bringing energy to the game, thats something that we all try to do. The game is interesting and youve just got to play it the right way. We try to do that. We try to make the right plays for guys, getting guys in spots where they can be successful and tonight, we just didnt take care of the ball, the diminutive scorer continued. We got every shot that we wanted, each guy on our team. We just didnt make the shots. Theyre a hell of a team. Im not taking that from them at all. But for us, we just didnt make the shots. We got the stops when we needed them and we got buckets when we needed them. We just didnt make them down the stretch.Countered Thibodeau: I dont want to put it all on him. Weve just got to do better. The last five minutes, its got to be better. As a team. Its not any one particular guy.Youve got to make the right play, the right read. Youve got to do your job. If your job is to set a screen, you set a great screen. If youre job is to give yourself up and make a great cut; usually when youre cutting hard, when you finish your spacing, youre going to loosen the defense. I thought the second shot hurt us, so those are things. The turnovers, in a game like this, where its a low-scoring game, those possessions are huge, the coach went on to say. We cant play loose with the ball. Youve got to play strong inside. Were doing a lot of tipping and thats not going to get it done, not against the tough teams in the league, so weve got to do better.
Noah chimed in: We definitely turned the ball over too much. Cant turn the ball over in the last five minutes of the game. Weve just got to get good shots. Some good things, some bad things. But overall, the energy wasnt very good tonight. As a whole, we have to play better. Too many turnovers. I think we could have rebounded the ball better.This loss stung hard in the Bulls locker room, particularly after theyd built some momentum with consecutive wins over two playoff contenders in Dallas and Philadelphia, closing out a home stand that begun so disappointinglysurrendering a 27-point lead to Milwaukee last weekon a similarly negative note. Making it even more poignant is the fact that Indiana is also missing their leading scorer, Danny Granger, and the Pacers are a rival that the Bulls prefer keep little-brother status instead of taking the reins of the Central Division this season, during the ongoing absence of Derrick Rose.Deng stated the obvious: Our games are always close. Give them credit, they came here and got what they wanted. I dont think we played well.With two road games coming up against the dregs of the division, Cleveland and Detroit, the Bulls will have the opportunity to build up their confidence again. Theyll need it with a tough December stretch awaiting them upon their return to Chicago.

Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago

Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago

Jimmy Butler is headed to Minnesota to reunite with Tom Thibodeau.

And as the former face of the Bulls packs his bags to join the Timberwolves, Butler took to social media to say goodbye to Chicago and thank the fans for all they've done over the last six years:

Chicago, What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center. Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS... AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! - Jimmy G. Buckets (@staceyking21 )

A post shared by Jimmy Butler (@jimmybutler) on

Here's Butler's complete message:

Chicago,

What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. 
I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. 
You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center.

Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. 
Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS... AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! - Jimmy G. Buckets 

A classy message from Butler that exudes the exact opposite tone of his personal trainer immediately following the Thursday night trade.

Absolutely love that he signed it "Jimmy G. Buckets" at the end, shouting out Stacey King with one of the most unique nicknames in Chicago sports history.

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

Mark Buehrle confirms 'that' rumor from Game 3 of the 2005 World Series

A few years ago, White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said on CSN's SportsTalk Live that Mark Buehrle had a beer -- or a few beers -- before saving Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. Cooper, with a bit of a grin, told David Kaplan that "there's no telling how many beers he had before that save."

Buehrle, in a story for the Players' Tribune, cleared that up:

The thing a lot of people talk about with that one is this rumor that I drank a few beers before I got the save in our Game 3 victory.

There’s been some stuff that’s come out on that topic, but I feel like you all should really hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. So, here goes….

In short: Yeah, sure, O.K. fine, so I had a few. I can admit to that.

Buehrle explained in his first-person article that he only had three beers, max, which wasn't unusual given he had just started the second game of the series against the Houston Astros. More from Buehrle:

First off, no one on the planet would’ve ever guessed that I was going to see the field in Game 3. I had started the previous game of the series and threw 100 pitches in that one. I would’ve bet my house that I wasn’t going to pitch a day and a half later. Anyone would have.

So, that being the case, you better believe that I was gonna do what came natural to me — grab a few beers during the early innings, kick back and enjoy the game like everyone else.

How can you blame him? Cooper told him there was no way the White Sox would be using him that night in Houston unless the game went to 13 or 14 innings. Every time Buehrle went for another cold one, he checked in with his coaches -- hey, you still don't need me, right? 

Of course, the White Sox unexpectedly needed Buehrle after Brad Ausmus reached on an error on what was Damaso Marte's 39th pitch of the game. With the winning run at the plate and Marte over his season high in pitches (35) the call went to Buehrle. 

Buehrle retired Adam Everett to end the game, recording the only save of his career. That he had a few beers earlier that night only added No. 56's legendary status on the South Side. 

More: Chris Kamka's 56 reasons why White Sox fans love Mark Buehrle