Can battered Bulls muster up energy to extend series?

Can battered Bulls muster up energy to extend series?
May 6, 2012, 10:03 pm
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PHILADELPHIA Weve got to find a way. Thats it. At the end, its got to be hustle plays, tough plays, hard-nosed plays, second shot, multiple effort. Thats what it comes down to. Youve got to make them, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, following his teams 89-82 Game 4 loss to the 76ers Sunday afternoon. Were fighting, but we can do better. We can do a lot better.

But can they? From an execution standpoint, sure, the Bulls could certainly improve, but when measuring their effort in Game 4, one can help but think the scrappy squad just doesnt have anything left.

Yes, it didnt help that there was a 31-14 free-throw discrepancy in Philadelphias favor, something that affected the games stretch run and Thibodeau addressed afterwards.

You have to ask yourself, Are you getting the shots that you would like? Quite frankly, I thought we had some good, hard drives where we didnt get calls, so sometimes thats the way it goes and when that happens, youve just got to go harder, I guess, he said. Thats for you to say, not me. Thats part of the game. I thought our guys drove the ball hardthe referees dont talk to me.

But overall, the Sixers just had fresher legs, made more athletic plays and despite a big game from Carlos Boozer, an inspired performance by Taj Gibson and C.J. Watsons bounce-back outing, the short-handed Bulls, playing without their heart and soul in Joakim Noah, again came up short in the fourth quarter.

Things have changed a little bit, the way were playing a little bit, but its still the same team. Were still playing hard, but give credit to the Sixers. Theyve done a good job, especially in the fourth quarter. They took one away from us at our place, said Luol Deng, who gave Chicago a scare when he went down hard in the first half and clearly in pain, clutched at his already-injured left wrist. Theyve done a good job of protecting their home court, so right now, when we get back home, weve got to get that game and when we come back here, weve got to get the one they took from us. Thats got to be the mindset.

When youre down 3-1, its a lot different, he continued. Its one game, but at the same time, we still believe. We still believe that weve just got to get that one game and get it going, get that momentum.

On paper, thats still very possible, but with the emotional and physical toll the Bulls have been put through in the postseason alone, how likely that happens is another story, one to be answered Tuesday.