Bulls break down final play of Wizards loss

Bulls break down final play of Wizards loss
January 17, 2014, 11:00 pm
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WASHINGTON—After allowing the Wizards to seize the momentum down the stretch of Friday night’s matchup at the Verizon Center, Kirk Hinrich’s jumper trimmed the Bulls’ deficit to three points, as the veteran floor general’s jumper made it a 96-93 game with 2:21 remaining in the contest.

The score would stay that way.

Turnovers and wasted possessions on both sides gave the Bulls a chance to avenge Monday’s loss to Washington and win the season series against the squad that went into Friday with an identical record. With fourth place in the Eastern Conference on the line, the Bulls had one last chance with 10.4 seconds left on the clock, enough time to send the game into an extra session with a three-pointer or even make a conventional basket and foul.

Following a timeout, swingman Jimmy Butler inbounded the ball to veteran sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy Jr., who deigned not to shoot what would have been a tough triple, and got it back to Butler, who was smothered by Wizards big man Nene and had his buzzer-beating game-tying attempt blocked ending the Bulls’ evening in the nation’s Capital.

“I got open, but unfortunately, the inbounder was a little bit too close to the sideline and the inbounder’s guy jumped to me, and I didn’t have a shot, so I passed it to Jimmy and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a good enough shot,” Dunleavy recounted. “But with 10 seconds left, it’s different than having two or three, where you just want to get a look. Ten seconds is a lot of time. You can get a two there. I just wasn’t going to chuck one up.”

[MORE: Wall leads Wizards past Bulls again]

Butler gave his take: “Who was guarding me? John {Wall, the Wizards point guard], he went and trapped Mike, and then when he threw the ball to me, I was caught off-guard with it. I think everybody was. That’s all right, you learn from it.”

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau had a different perspective, one he could change after he gets an opportunity to review the play in detail.

“It was his [Dunleavy’s] decision. He was coming off [of a screen], I thought we had good screening action, executed well. Just didn’t get a good shot,” he explained. “He’s got to make a split-second decision. Is he open to shoot? Or do you try to make the extra pass? So I’ve got to see the play again, but I thought they had good separation to start the play.”

Of course, like any good coach, Thibodeau didn’t pin the Bulls’ loss on just one play, tracing it back to an underwhelming final period and his team’s lack of ball security against a Washington bunch that is potent on fast breaks.

“There were a couple things. When we broke the lineup at the end of the third [quarter], I think they went [on an] 8-0 [run]. In the fourth, when Beal came back in, he got loose on us. But the biggest problem was our turnovers. So the turnovers led to—and they’re scoring the ball right now; they’re in a pretty good rhythm—so the 15 turnovers led to 25 points. That’s hard to overcome,” the coach said. “Actually, I thought the set defense was pretty good. The transition, but it was mainly off of live-ball turnovers. So if you’re turning the ball over and now you’re putting them in the open floor, now you’re making it hard on yourself.”

Taj Gibson concurred: “We just let up on ‘D.’ [Wizards shooting guard] Bradley Beal got hot late, we had to adjust and it was a couple plays where it just broke down, and they hit some big-time jump shots. It was a battle. It was kind of similar to what happened in Orlando. We hit, they hit. It was all coming down to who could get a final good stop, and they did that.”

[MORE: Bulls emerge from loss to Wizards with health intact]

After referencing Wednesday's win over the Magic, Gibsonn was asked if there was any carry-over from the triple-overtime affair, even after an off day.

"I don’t think so. I thought we felt like we had a good shot to win. The same five that was in the game in Orlando started off the fourth quarter," he said. "We started off hot in the fourth, hitting a lot of early shots. It was just our defense late."

Dunleavy sees the Bulls' defense, usually their trademark, as problematic at the moment, but something that can be rectified.

"It’s a little bit of everything, but getting beat in transition a lot, that’s a little bit of concern and just some basic mistakes we’re making, some simple stuff we’ve just got to clean up," he explained. "We haven’t had much practice time the last couple weeks, the last 10 days."

And they won't get it before their next game, Saturday evening against the 76ers at the United Center, upon their return to Chicago.