Belinelli atones for mistakes with game-winner

Belinelli atones for mistakes with game-winner
January 19, 2013, 5:29 am
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BOSTONMarco Belinelli didnt seem like hed be lucky Friday night.

After struggling Wednesday in Toronto, where he used to play for the Raptors, the Bulls backup shooting guard was experiencing another rough outing against the Celtics. From questionable shot selection to turnoversafter being trapped in the corner, he threw up a wild three-point heave that hit the top of the backboard on the Bulls second-to-last possession of the gamethe Italian sharpshooter simply didnt have it going.

But when it counted, Belinelli hit the go-ahead, game-winning shot, an improbable fallaway jumper with 3.1 seconds remaining in the extra session, to give the Bulls a 100-99 overtime win over Boston.

It was just natural. I know thats a crazy shot. The ball went in, but I didnt play well. When I took the shot from the corner, that was a bad position for us. Anyway, forgot that, I scored the ball in the last seconds, we played good defense and weve got another one tomorrow, so keep going, he recounted afterwards. The play was give the ball to Jo, try to hand off and play something quick. Okay, I passed the ball to Jo, they denied me. They pressed the ball very well in the last couple seconds, so Jo passed the ball to Booz. I was denied and I just played backdoor, and Booz made a great pass to me, and I tried to score. That was a good shot, but first of all, its important that we won the game.

The final play didnt occur as planned. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau didnt draw it up the way it developed on the court, but a day after his 55th birthday, hell take the win against his former employer.

Well, there were a lot of plays in that game, but were just obviously happy that we found a way to win the game, the coach said. And often times, thats what happens. Its the scramble play. Theyre very good defensively. They take options away from you and youve got to go to counters, and youve got to be able to read, and you cant freeze, and you cant hold the ball. So, he bailed us out. Big shot. A big play was Jimmy and Joakim tying up Pierce at the end, just to give ourselves a chance, so sometimes you need that. I thought the defense was good most of the good, the rebounding was good. The Celtics are playing well. You have to earn the win. I thought thats what we did.

Rip Hamilton, the Bulls high scorer on the evening, chimed in: He was due for it, man. I thought it was a great shot. They tried to trap him the one time, going into the corner, and we almost turned the ball over. I thought the next one, he came out, he was aggressive, just focused on trying to make it and he made it.

For Belinelli, the final shot had a redemptive quality, as he was mobbed by his teammates at midcourt following the final buzzerafter Bostons Courtney Lee missed a last-gasp attemptand all of his mistakes were atoned for.

I feel really good. In my mind right now. Its great to feel like that. First of all, I think we played a good game after a difficult game like Toronto, after another overtime. We played good and we have a great team. When I scored the last shot, I saw all my teammates at halfcourt, happy for me, so it just really feels good for me, said Belinelli, who couldnt recall prior game-winning shots in his career afterwards. I cant wait to see the picture. Thats a great moment for me.

Just amazing, he continued. I know that was a crazy shot on the previous possession. I took a tough shot from the corner, but you never know in the NBA. Sometimes, the ball goes in. That was a terrible shot for us, so its good. Its good to come back. That was a good pass from Boozer. That was a good team win.

This is what youre living for. These are the great moments of your life. I love basketball, I love this team, I love Bulls fans, the organization, so just keep going.