1. Direct From the Office of David Stern….
Jimmy Butler’s phantom 2nd foul on LeBron James with 2:47 remaining in the first quarter. Score: Bulls, 21-19. Butler’s defense has been huge. With the second foul, Thibodeau was force to move Taj Gibson onto James early.
The rebounding foul on Joakim Noah with 3:15 left in the game. Chris Bosh hits two free-throws, increasing Miami’s lead to 7 (90-83). Huge swing. Instead of another Bulls opportunity to cut the lead to 3, the lead goes up to 7. Van Gundy, who is notorious for his non-call philosophy, was correct this time: the foul was bogus.
On the ensuing possession, Marco Belinelli hit a corner 3, got smacked on the wrist by Dwayve Wade as he released it, but no foul was called.
I’m sure there were a few more exhibits, but I didn’t have a chance to see them–the museum was crowded.
2. Chris Anderson‘s 2012-13 salary: $700,000; amount of Chris Anderson’s salary spent on hair gel and tatoo-upkeep: $200,000
3. Nate Robinson is in love with the moment, and it’s impossible not to appreciate how badly he wants it. At practically every dead ball, Robinson exhorted the crowd, waving his arms like a manic conductor. Nate even got a block from behind on a twisting, double-pump LeBron lay-up attempt.
4. Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli are making all the right decisions. Belinelli knows how to look the defender off with his one-handed passes (five years in Europe helps with passing), and shoots better from range than Luol Deng. Butler is a terrific rebounder, and when he’s hitting his outside shot, he can get by most defenders off the dribble, and finish with either hand. As much as the complications from a spinal tap and spinal meningitis are horrible luck for Deng and for the Bulls, Belinelli would not have been given this opportunity otherwise. Sometimes you need a little luck. Of course, Deng’s defense on James would have been excellent. Butler’s has been great, too, but the inevitable foul trouble means you need two guys who can make things ugly for LeBron. Belinelli’s 5th foul, a charge with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter, was a big one.
5. Dwyane Wade’s first shot: a baseline fade-away with 8:00 remaining in the first half. Wade’s knee might be the difference regarding the Heat’s championship hopes. Wade finished 5 of 7 from the floor with 4 turnovers.
Limited Options: Down to 6
6. Nazr Mohommed got ejected for shoving LeBron after he gave LeBron a hard foul in the open court, and then LeBron threw him off. The ejection call was debatable. Jeff Van Gundy decided it wouldn’t have been an ejection if LeBron didn’t fall back and slide down. The problem with the ejection: the Bulls were down to 6 available players, Rip Hamilton the lone healthy and available player not in the game. Thibodeau may have to wear a uniform underneath his suit for Game 4. Scottie Pippen, sitting courtside, could provide 5-10 helpful minutes.
7. Chris Bosh’s numbers and game score (basketball-reference.com): 20 pts, 19 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk; 21.3 game score, Bosh’s best game of playoffs.
Wearing Down Before the Buzzer
8. Final 2:40 of the 2nd: 9-2, Heat. Final 2:30 of the 3rd: 6-2, Heat. Final 4:21 of the game: 19-9, Heat.
The Bulls were clearly exhausted at the end of the quarters, and the game. Not enough bodies, too many minutes for those 6.
9. Jump-shots hit the front rim when legs are tired. The Bulls are fighting so hard on defense, and so depleted by injuries, everyone is tired by the 4th quarter: Taj Gibson jumper: short b) Nate Robinson three-pointer: short
Norris Cole, Not Ray Allen
10. Norris Cole provided Erik Spoelstra and the Heat with a huge boost off the bench. Instead of Ray Allen or Mario Chalmers, it was Cole who hit the big shots and did a good job of defending Nate Robinson. Cole shot 6 of 7, hit all three from distance and scored 18 points in 24 minutes.