Bulls offense goes silent in Game 4 blowout

Bulls offense goes silent in Game 4 blowout

May 13, 2013, 8:30 pm
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In what could be the final NBA game at the United Center this season, a flat, exhausted and depleted Bulls team put up an absolutely stinker Monday night, getting demolished by the Heat in Game 4 of Eastern Conference semifinals, 88-65, mostly due to a historically awful offensive performance.

The Bulls shot 25.7 percent from the field, including 2-17 from three-point range, and postseason hero Nate Robinson endured his worst playoff outing at the worst possible time, going 0-for-12 from the floor, to set up Wednesday’s road elimination game.

After Carlos Boozer (14 points, 12 rebounds) scored the contest’s first two points, Miami went on an 11-0 run to put the Bulls in a deep hole at the outset of the game.

Heat All-Star big man Chris Bosh’s Game 3 performance carried over in the early going and the hosts’ turnover woes only added to a losing recipe, though they were eventually able to staunch the bleeding behind the scoring of Boozer and Jimmy Butler (12 points).

However, with league MVP LeBron James also making his presence felt in the opening period and the visitors shooting extremely efficiently from the floor, the Bulls were unable to close the gap.

Despite the Bulls dominating the boards and Marco Belinelli coming alive offensively as the frame went on, after a quarter of play, they faced a 21-15 deficit, a product of their own 27.3 percent shooting.

Belinelli picked up his third foul early in the second quarter, prompting the insertion—much to the delight of the crowd—of long-forgotten veteran Rip Hamilton (11 points), who had seen very limited action in only two of the Bulls’ 11 playoff games thus far into the postseason.

Hamilton missed his first shot, but then knocked down an open trey, which energized the crowd and provided a spark to the home team, as evidenced by fellow reserve Taj Gibson’s (10 points, nine rebounds) putback, plus the foul, of his subsequent attempt.

Still, the Heat maintained a comfortable margin of separation, as Bosh remained a factor, James dominated with his brilliant all-around game and the Bulls continued to experience ball-security issues.

At the intermission, the Bulls trailed, 44-33, as their shooting dropped to 26.8 percent by halftime.

After the break, the Bulls’ struggles continued, as Nate Robinson’s scoreless drought persisted—the diminutive scorer missed all six of his shots in the first half and equaled that number in the third quarter—allowing the Heat’s double-digit edge to remain intact.

Maimi’s dominance on the interior and in transition—24-14 and 17-2, respectively—was daunting and while the visitors weren’t incredibly efficient against the Bulls’ set defense, subtle contributions from role players like Udonis Haslem made a difference.

The low-scoring period also saw the guests’ field-goal percentage drop and while Boozer started producing offensively by dint of sheer effort, though his whatever positives he brought to the table were countered by Chicago native Dwyane Wade, who hit timely shots after suffering through a first half in which he absent as a scorer.

Due to a combination of the Heat’s defensive pressure, incredibly inefficient offense and simply a continuation of a flat performance, heading into the final stanza, the Bulls were at a 58-42 disadvantage, following a Norris Cole triple at the third-quarter buzzer.

A Butler left-handed reverse layup opened the fourth quarter and Gibson also provided a boost off the bench—Hamilton and rookie point guard Marquis Teague started the frame in the backcourt—but the Bulls still couldn’t make much of a dent, given their guests’ formidable lead.

Overshadowed by the hosts’ horrific offensive outing was the play of James, who functioned as the Heat’s top scoring and playmaking threat and after Bosh was his sidekick in the first half, backup center Chris “Birdman” Andersen served as Miami’s top interior threat for a stretch of the final frame.

Fans started heading for the arena’s exits midway through the period and with the likes of James and Bulls’ All-Star counterpart Joakim Noah hitting the sidelines for good, if it wasn’t before, it became apparent that the end result was set in stone.

With their season on the verge of ending, as prideful as they’ve been the entire campaign, one would expect the Bulls, undermanned as they are, to put up more of a fight Wednesday at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.