The Chicago Bulls' offensive set that ended their season Thursday night continued to have fingers of blame pointed at point guard C.J. Watson for passing to Omer Asik instead of holding onto the ball himself.
Watson is an 81-percent free-throw shooter and passed to Asik, who is a 45-percent free-throw shooter. Asik, who Bulls fans thought was the victim of a flagrant foul, missed both free throws with seven seconds left. Andre Iguodala grabbed the rebound, drove the length of the court and was fouled with two seconds left. He hit both to seal a 79-78 victory to clinch the series 4-2.
"C.J. Watson actually had a pretty good floor game, even though he didn't shoot the ball well (2-of-11)," Jalen Rose said Friday on "Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio." "He had 10 assists, zero turnovers and even threw it to Asik on a pick-and-roll play where Asik got a dunk going down the lane (with 25 seconds left).
"Late in a game, during the middle of a game, at the beginning of a game, when you're the point guard your job is to decipher every situation. So if I'm on a fastbreak I know who's on my right wing. Is he going to go to the basket for a layup or a dunk, is he going to flare off for a three-point shot? Is the guy on my left, is he a finisher, can he make free throws? You have to understand like a quarterback every player's strength and weaknesses."
Rose, a 16-year NBA veteran point guard, believes Asik's limitations at the line should have precluded Watson from making that pass.
"You're an 80 percent free throw shooter. ... he's a 45-percent free-throw shooter," Rose said. "You have to hold onto the basketball, you have to put yourself on the line. Don't put your center in that position ...."
Watson might have been influenced by Asik's effective play seconds earlier.
"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."
ESPN analyst and former head coach Hubie Brown believes Watson didn't work the clock effectively.
"The easiest thing to do is to second-guess him at that time, but as he's coming over (half court) we all know he could have dribbled all the way to the right side of the floor, backed it out before a) he might have been fouled, or b) he makes the pass," Brown said on "Mike & Mike." "You always tell players in this situation anytime a player comes close to you, pass the ball. Remember, you do not want to stop the clock. Because if you stop the clock, you're putting pressure on the guy who has to make the foul shots. But if you pass the ball and you continue to pass it to the free people, the clock continues to run. The clock is your friend when you are ahead.
"In that situation, I think what he saw was the play before that when they called a timeout, set up the pick-and-roll and Asik rolled down the middle, they get it to him and he scores quickly. He probably thought he had the same situation. Unfortunately, he did not have enough space. When he made that play, the defender was able to recover. If he would have continued with one or two more dribbles, and then the defender came to him, then he could have passed the ball and Asik could have made the catch and made the dunk without putting him on the foul line. That was difficult for Asik, because without Asik they never would have been in that situation. He played a magnificent game."
"And when you think about Chicago, just remember as they're going in the fourth quarter under all of that pressure, you have Gibson and Asik up front, Watson in the backcourt, three backups guys," Brown said. "And there was a lot of pressure on them to execute perfectly."