- Jon Greenberg, Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- Doug Collins is headed to the second round for the first time since 1989. He's just not sure why.
“I don’t know how we won,” he said after his Philadelphia 76ers’ 79-78 win over Chicago in Game 6 of the first-round series.
The Bulls season ended in a blur of bad decisions and bad luck.
Playing wonderfully, at that point, in relief of an injured Joakim Noah, Omer Asik gave the Bulls a 3-point lead on a surprising dunk off a pick-and-roll with C.J. Watson with 26 seconds left. The Sixers called their last timeout and scored on a Thaddeus Young layup with 12.8 seconds to make it 78-77.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday was trying to foul in the backcourt to stop the clock, but the referees missed it, so Watson pushed the ball and saw Asik in good position and passed to him. It was a brain cramp of epic proportions, but Asik had been having a near-perfect offensive game.
"I thought he had a clear dunk,” Watson said. “Spencer Hawes came up, I'd been giving it to O the whole night and he's been dunking it so I thought why not give it to him again? I thought it was a flagrant, but it didn't go that way."
Hawes practically wrestled Asik to the ground, but it wasn’t called a flagrant. Asik, dripping with sweat after playing the entire second half, missed both free throws. A flagrant would’ve given the Bulls the ball.
“I’ve got to get more clarity on what a flagrant foul is,” Thibodeau said. “Because I don’t understand that. But you know, sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
Thibodeau added: “I don’t want to put it on the officials. It wasn’t the officials. We didn’t do what we should’ve done, which is close out the game.”
The pass was a confusing decision by Watson, who should’ve kept his dribble. He’s an 81 percent free-throw shooter. Asik is a 45 percent free-throw shooter. He was 4-for-5 from the line at that point, but that just augured for a slip-up.
“It’s a bang-bang play,” Thibodeau said. “I thought there might have been a foul in the backcourt with Holliday. They were trying to take the foul, obviously they didn’t see it that way. You’re running the clock down, you can dribble the clock out, they have to foul. They’re out of timeouts, so they have to go the length of the court. It didn’t happen. Hopefully We learn from that. But sometimes that’s what happens in a game.”
Iguodala grabbed the rebound and the Bulls couldn't stop him. He wound up driving the lane on Asik, who put his hands straight-up but was still called for the foul with 2.2 seconds left. Iguodala made both free throws.
With no timeouts, Watson took off and tried a desperation have that hit back iron. That was how the Bulls season ended. No one could've written that script.
The Bulls' season ended in a blur of bad decisions and bad luck.