Bulls stunned after total collapse
November, 26, 2012
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- The similarities were unavoidable for Kirk Hinrich and the Chicago Bulls.
The veteran guard was on the Bulls team that blew a 35-point lead to the Sacramento Kings almost three years ago, so he knew how it felt to be totally crushed by a defeat the likes of which the Bulls endured against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday after blowing a 27-point lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
"I totally forgot about that one, but I'd say the feeling is similar probably in the locker room right now," Hinrich said. "It was just polar opposites the way we're playing and then the way we finished the game. Give them credit. They stayed with it, their bench came in and played hard and gave them good minutes and they stole one."
Much like on Dec. 22, 2009 when they gave away the game to the Kings, many Bulls players just sat in their locker stalls and stared into space after Monday’s loss. They couldn't believe what they had just done. The Bucks surged to tie the game with a 31-4 run midway through the fourth quarter, and ended up closing the game down on a 42-14 roller coaster ride that left the United Center in a state of stunned anger.
That anger seeped into the Bulls locker room and players tried to figure out what had happened. Veteran forward Luol Deng admitted he couldn't even remember what Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said to the team because his mind was elsewhere.
"It was crazy," Bulls guard Rip Hamilton said. "It was one of them things that you never expect. It's really hard to put your finger on. They kind of brought guys off the bench on their team that came out and just played hard, and they played harder than us in that fourth quarter. They got to ever loose ball and just played with a sense of toughness."
Thibodeau couldn't believe the way his team closed the game after taking such a gigantic lead.
"We were very loose with the lead at the end of the third quarter," he said. "That game changed in four to five minutes. The last few minutes of the third, the first two of the fourth and we couldn't stop it."
Like the Kings, the Bucks were shocked by their massive comeback. Bucks head coach Scott Skiles knows his team stole a game and he was understandably happy about it.
"It just doesn't happen that much," he said. "It's hard to do. You've got to play perfectly and you need some help from the other team, and kind of both things happened for us tonight."
What happened for the Bulls was that they melted down on a number of levels. Deng acknowledged that this is the type of game that can linger for a while.
"If you don't play tough with a lead this is what happens," Thibodeau said. "You got to play 48 minutes in this league and we still got a long way to go in that area."