Bulls Go Down in Game 6
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 18, 2007 12:00PM
Well, the Bulls certainly didn't go down without a fight — not even after falling into a 3-0 series hole. But down they ultimately did go, losing to the Detroit Pistons 95-85 in Game 6 on Thursday night at the United Center.
For a half, actually forcing Game 7 seemed like a realistic possibility as the Bulls took a 48-43 lead into the locker room. P.J. Brown had the playoff game of his long career, tallying 20 points in the first half.
In the end, the cold shooting by Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon led to the Bulls' downfall. Within four points of Detroit with a minute and half before the end of the third quarter, the Bulls suddenly forgot how to score. Over the next eleven minutes — equivalent to nearly an entire quarter — the Bulls managed just four points! Four! Way to step up in the clutch with the season hanging in the balance, guys. This stretch was especially frustrating since Detroit managed only ten points themselves. If the Bulls managed to hit even just a couple of their shots or make just a few fewer stupid mistakes during that stretch they could have pulled the game out.
But instead, after fighting so hard to extend the series, they sputtered out like an car made by one of Detroit's "Big 3" right after the warranty expired.
Of course that analogy's not quite accurate for this team, as they are still a young group on the way up — not a bunch of worn-out parts on their last legs (that'd be Miami). There is a lot to look forward to with this Bulls team. They made real progress this season, very nearly winning the second seed in the playoffs. And they finally advanced past the first round for the first time since MJ's final title run. Of course, the big "what if" is where they'd be had they won that final regular season game and been the second seed. Would they be finishing off New Jersey and anticipating an upcoming series with the Pistons for the Eastern Conference title?
The Bulls should be in pretty good shape to be legitimate contenders next season. Luol Deng has emerged as one of the top young stars in the NBA. Ben Gordon continues to improve. Kirk Hinrich is a solid player, if one who seems to have peaked already. Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefelosha both displayed flashes of their potential. Oh, and the Bulls have yet another lottery pick thanks to the New York Knicks.
The Bulls certainly aren't lacking for talent. If anything, they've got too many good players, and they need to find a way to consolidate that into one great player. Expect to hear rumors involving the Bulls possibly trading for the likes of Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol. This team's close as it is, but don't expect GM John Paxson to sit still over the summer.
Photo by Reuters/John Gress.