I'm going to warn you guys right now. This is going to be long, and this is going to be ugly. But I felt it was necessary to take a closer look at just what went wrong during the debacle of a third quarter in the Chicago Bulls' 109-92 Game 2 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers outscored the Bulls 36-14 in the frame and destroyed the Bulls in transition, scoring 11 fast break points to Chicago's zero. Ultimately, the Sixers turned an eight-point deficit into a 14-point lead. The rest was history.
Let's dive right into this.
- First Sixers possession of the third quarter results in a tough, contested make by Jrue Holiday at the top of the circle. Holiday killed the Bulls all game, but you can't blame C.J. Watson for this one. Good defense was bested by better offense. Bulls 55 Sixers 49
- The Bulls answer right back with a Luol Deng jumper. After initially trying to free Rip Hamilton with a screen, the Bulls look to Deng in the post against Evan Turner. Deng faces Turner up and nails a step back jumper. Bulls 57 Sixers 49
- Andre Iguodala airballs a terrible fadeaway from the free throw line. Bulls 57 Sixers 49
- Deng posts up Turner again, and after facing up, takes him off the dribble to the middle of the lane. Unfortunately, Lu misses the little push shot and Turner grabs the board. Turner pushes it upcourt and pretty much takes it one-on-five. He misses the layup, but Elton Brand swoops in and cleans up the miss as the Bulls are caught watching. Bulls 57 Sixers 51
- The Bulls again try to free Hamilton, but Joakim Noah does not even bother setting the screen and Spencer Hawes denies the pass anyway. Watson goes to Deng on the opposite wing, who bricks a three. The Sixers push the ball off the miss, and Holiday buries a three after Watson gives him too much space. Tom Thibodeau burns a timeout with 10:03 left in the quarter. Certainly not the start the Bulls were looking for. Bulls 57 Sixers 54
- Out of the timeout, the Bulls look to get Carlos Boozer going on offense. Unfortunately, Boozer simply loses the ball as he goes up for the shot. Watson tracks it down, but at this point, the shot clock is at five and the Bulls are in desperation mode. Luckily, the ball ends up in Hamilton's hands and he gets bailed out with a foul call. He nails both free throws. Bulls 59 Sixers 54
- Holiday nails yet another jumper, taking a hand-off from Hawes at the top of the key and then shaking Watson. Bulls 59 Sixers 56
- The Bulls run another play for Hamilton, and although it's bottled up at first, Rip gets free thanks to a gamble by Holiday. Hamilton makes a floater in the lane. Bulls 61 Sixers 56
- The Bulls play excellent defense and force a bad three by Iggy at the end of the shot clock. However, Hawes snares the long rebound and the Sixers regroup. Holiday and Brand run pick-and-roll, which does not appear to work at first as Hamilton rotates over to defend Brand. But once Hamilton recovers to his man, Boozer does not step out on Brand quick enough, giving Brand enough space to nail a jumper at the top of the key. Bulls 61 Sixers 58
- Three seconds on Boozer. Guh. On the other end, Hamilton wanders into no man's land on defense, allowing Turner to get a good look off a back door cut. Turner misses the layup, but grabs the offensive rebound and is fouled by Boozer. Turner makes both free throws. I watched this play several times, and I have absolutely no idea what the eff Hamilton was doing on this possession. Completely lost in the middle of the floor. Bulls 61 Sixers 60
- Hamilton tries to take Holiday off the dribble, but Hawes steps over to challenge at the rim. The loose ball goes off the Bulls and the Sixers regain possession. Bulls 61 Sixers 60
- Brand posts up Boozer and nails a jumper in his eye, because of course. The Sixers have now taken the lead with 7:21 left in the quarter. Sixers 62 Bulls 61
- Watson pump fakes a three from the wing and tries to take the ball to the hoop. His out of control drive results in a block, a runout and a fast break layup by Turner. Sixers 64 Bulls 61
- Another attempt to get Hamilton the ball results in another terrible screen and a hard trap on Rip. Hamilton gets the ball to Boozer in the corner, who promptly throws the ball away. Boozer then fouls Hawes as they run back the other way. The wheels are starting to fall off at this point. Sixers 64 Bulls 61
- Turner isos Hamilton on the wing, dribbles right, fakes to the middle and then nails a fadeaway. Butter. Sixers 66 Bulls 61
- Watson takes a bad long two off a screen by Noah. The shot falls way short and the Sixers gobble up the board. Iggy pushes the ball, but the Bulls get back this time and are able to set up their defense. Holiday and Hawes run pick-and-roll, and Noah shows hard on the screen. Deng is late getting over to challenge Hawes, who buries the open jumper. Sixers 68 Bulls 61
- Boozer gets a wide open look at the free throw line after nice penetration by Watson. Brick. Sigh. Iggy pushes the ball yet again, but momentarily bails the Bulls out with an atrocious PUJIT. Sixers 68 Bulls 61
- Hamilton misses a wide open look off pick-and-roll, but the Sixers are unable to corral the loose ball and the Bulls get it back. Watson stops the bleeding for a second with a tough jumper at the top of the key. Sixers 68 Bulls 63
- The Bulls play some nice defense and force an off balance Iggy runner at the end of the shot clock. The Bulls grab the board and go the other way, and Watson gets fouled going to the basket. Hamilton then misses a jumper, the Sixers push the ball off the rebound and Iggy gets the hoop and the harm. The free throw is missed. Sixers 70 Bulls 63
- Watson aggressively drives to the bucket, but he misses the layup. The ball goes out of bounds to the Bulls. Off the inbounds, Watson nails a prayer three with the shot clock winding down. Perhaps this was the spark the Bulls needed to regain control? Sixers 70 Bulls 66
- Of course not. Turner isos Hamilton again, and Turner owns Hamilton again. ET makes a tough and-1 jumper and converts the free throw attempt. Sixers 73 Bulls 66
- Thaddeus Young aggressively doubles Hamilton coming off a screen, which leaves Taj Gibson open for a jumper from the corner. Unlike Boozer, Gibson actually knocks it down. Sixers 73 Bulls 68
- After a few passes, a loose ball ends up in the hands of Turner, who schools Hamilton yet again and buries a jumper from the free throw line. Sixers 75 Bulls 68
- Hamilton posts up Lou Williams and takes a quick fadeaway, which of course he bricks. Lavoy Allen grabs the rebound and immediately the ball gets pushed up the floor. Young beats everybody down the court and throws down an alley-oop. Sixers 77 Bulls 68
- Watson attempts an awful three off the pick-and-roll and misses badly. Young isos Gibson, and Taj is called for a touch foul. Young makes both free throws. Sixers 79 Bulls 68
- John Lucas III dribbles the ball around the top of the key for a while and ridiculously calls for a clear out. Predictably, the result is a bricked jumper at the end of the shot clock, another Sixers runout and an Iggy dunk. I'm pretty much throwing things at this point. Sixers 81 Bulls 68
- The Bulls try to get Kyle Korver a look, but like Hamilton, he's doubled coming off the screen. The ball ends up in Gibson's hands in the high post, who then gets fouled as he takes the ball to the hoop. He splits the free throws. Sixers 81 Bulls 69
- The Sixers run a gorgeous play for Williams that results in an alley-oop. Williams initially looks like he's going to go set a ball screen at the top of the key, but then he dashes around a screen set by Allen and wheels towards the hoop. Lucas is caught behind the Allen screen and nobody helps on the backside. An easy two points. And man did Lou get up. Sixers 83 Bulls 69
- The rest of the quarter goes as such: Deng misses a contested jumper at the end of the shot clock, Williams breaks the backboard with a missed three, Deng bricks again and Gibson blows a chippy in the lane as the time runs out. The third quarter mercifully ends with the Sixers up 83-69.
Key Third Quarter Stats
- Sixers shot 68.2 percent (15-22) to Bulls' 25 percent (5-20).
- The Bulls were just 1-7 on shots in the paint, while the Sixers were 7-9. Of course, it's easy to make all those shots when they're dunks.
- Sixers outrebounded the Bulls 14-5. Despite the Bulls missing 15 shots, they only grabbed one offensive board.
- Sixers had eight assists to one for the Bulls.
- The aforementioned 11-0 demolition in fast break points.
- Deng and Hamilton both went 1-5. Boozer went 0-2 with two fouls and two turnovers. No production from the main offensive weapons.
- Turner scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting. Holiday scored seven points and handed out four assists.
- Noah posted an eight trillion. Yes, he did not record a single stat in the third quarter.
- Derrick Rose was noticeably missed, as nobody could create easy looks for either himself or teammates. The result was a bunch of contested shots at the end of the shot clock. Watson and Lucas were dreadful running the offense and getting the Bulls into their sets. But that's what happens when pressure defense gets amped up against backup point guards. Watson is a nice player and has done an admirable job filling in as the starter this year, but he's not Rose. He has a much tougher time creating good looks for himself and others when the defense gets ramped up a notch or two.
- I mentioned this in my recap, but the Bulls must adjust to the Sixers' constant trapping of Hamilton and Korver coming off screens. Pretty much every time the Bulls set down screens for those guys, the Sixers big guarding the screener was aggressively doubling. Also not helping matters were the terrible screens set by the Bulls' bigs. On several occasions, there was barely any contact made on the guy chasing Hamilton/Korver, making it easy for the defender to keep up. The Bulls usually do a nice job with screens, but they were quite poor last night.
- Boozer was downright awful. I mean, he literally did nothing right. Of course, the Bulls really made no effort to get him the ball. Then again, he gave the Bulls little reason to get him the ball. The few times he did touch it were a disaster.
- The easy transition buckets for Philly and the lack of offensive rebounding for the Bulls was quite alarming. That kind of stuff is often all about effort, and the Bulls simply lacked that in the third quarter. The Bulls are the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, so there's no excuse for grabbing only one offensive rebound off 15 misses. Although, to be somewhat fair, a few misses ended up going out of bounds and back to the Bulls. But still.
- Turner took Hamilton to the woodshed. Really nothing more to say about that. Excellent decision by Doug Collins to insert Turner into the starting lineup over Jodie Meeks, who only played in garbage time.
- Thibs only called one timeout to try and halt the momentum, and that came at about the 10-minute mark. I really thought he could have called another one or two to try and stop the onslaught.
- One disastrous outing does not mean the Bulls are screwed. I still believe they're the better team and will ultimately win the series. However, it's going to be a dog fight and the Bulls must go back to doing the things they did all season to be successful. Mainly, they must attack the offensive glass and play better defense. The offense will likely remain a bit of a problem with Rose out, but they can get enough of that as long as they play their normal level of defense. They simply CANNOT allow the Sixers to get easy buckets in transition. Thibs better emphasize hauling a** back on D in the next few days.
- The series is now tied 1-1 and Game 3 is on Friday in Philadelphia.
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