I got excited in the offseason when I thought Doug Collins would be the Bulls’ coach. I was disappointed when he was not named. I thought he was the perfect choice for this young team and would make them exciting. I guess I was wrong. It seems that John Paxon not only found a coach that has been willing to let Tyrus Thomas (to a point) and Joakim Noah (to a point) become that tandem I was hoping for. No matter what happens more this season, Vinnie DelNegro has orchestrated a playoff we will not soon forget. Just look at some of the comments in the local papers:
His steal, 3-point play, Rose’s block force Game 7
It’s the fourth quarter Thursday night, and a fan sitting behind me asks a question of no one in particular: “What the hell is happening?” Actually, it’s more of a plaintive cry than a question.
Well, let’s see. The Celtics have just scored 18 unanswered points to take an eight-point lead late in Game 6. The Bulls have just missed seven straight shots, thrown the ball away once and been given a technical.
The short answer to what the hell is happening is that the world is falling apart, piece by painful piece.
But then the expected happened, this being the series from a galaxy far, far away. The Bulls come back. Of course they do because that’s what the crazy, ridiculous script calls for.
New Bulls TV show: Heroes
I’m here for the fun …
The Bulls were looking for a hero.
They found a bunch of them.
In three overtimes, they had to.
At first, it looked like it would be John Salmons.
We already knew that Salmons has made Luol Deng expendable. But it was looking as if he was making Ben Gordon the same.
Salmons was money when the guy who wants the big money couldn’t play. After just 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting and an air ball at the end of regulation, Gordon was on the bench with six fouls and a technical.
In his place, Salmons drove for a layup in the final 30 seconds of the first overtime to get the Bulls even in a gotta-have-it Game 6. Then he put on a show in the second overtime. He drew a fifth foul on Paul Pierce and hit both free throws. He hit a three over Ray Allen. He drove for a layup to put the Bulls up by three.
All of this in about two minutes, by the way.
But Salmons in the second overtime and his 35 points overall were not enough. So, it looked as if Brad Miller would be the hero. It looked as if Miller would get his revenge the way good pros do.
Bloodied at the mouth, the result of an uncalled flagrant foul by Rajon Rondo at the end of a Game 5 loss in Boston, Miller came off the bench in Game 6 and scored 20 points, including a stunning drive from the top of the key to tie it at the end of regulation.
But most importantly, the guy who was woozy at the free-throw line from the Rondo smack in Boston, soberly sank two free throws at the end of the first overtime in Chicago.
Still, the ragged defending champion Celtics would not go away, especially Ray Allen, who went for 51, including a massive three to give us a third overtime.
Goodness, did the Bulls need a hero now.
Joakim Noah, anyone?
There he was, sticking out his long arms, deflecting a Pierce pass in the final minute of a tied third overtime, then racing down the court and jamming the ball while drawing Pierce’s sixth and final foul.
Basket, free throw, Bulls up by three with 35 seconds to go, and one of Boston’s two best clutch shooters was gone. Says hero to me.
But no. Even that incomprehensible highlight was not enough.
And then the kid made a play.
After Kirk Hinrich stunningly missed a layup that would’ve sealed it, Boston had the ball down one with 16.7 to play. As Rondo drove, spun and rose up for a potential game-winning shot, Derrick Rose soared to block it.
Time remained, the ball was loose, and there was the Rookie of the Year, picking up a loose ball and racing to the other end to draw a foul with 3.2 seconds to go. He missed both shots, but no matter.
The Celtics were out of timeouts and out of miracles.
The Bulls were in Game 7. In a locker room full of heroes.
Rosenblog ……May 1, 2009
Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah fired up after his heroics
Joakim Noah looked like, well, a runaway Bull as he dribbled downcourt, anticipating the foul that never came.
“I thought I would get fouled right away for sure,” Noah said of his game-changing steal, full-court drive and dunk that fouled Paul Pierce out in triple overtime. “It never came. So I just dunked it in.”
Ho and hum? Actually, Noah could barely contain his emotions after his play that included a game-high 15 rebounds.
“I feel great, like I could play again right now,” Noah said. “You’re numb to being tired and aches and pains because this is bigger than that. That’s what wanting to win is all about.”
K.C. Johnson, Chicag Tribune May 1, 2009
Noah way: A battle back from ‘death’
OK, just stop it. This really can’t be happening, can it? C’mon, another overtime game — this one a triple-overtime affair? Get me some antacid pills, and get me an extension on my deadline.
Perhaps the only appropriate thing to say after the Bulls survived for a 128-127 triple-overtime victory Thursday night in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics to force a Game 7 on Saturday was this: