- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Boozer tried his best to ignore the fact that his Chicago Bulls went to the free throw line 17 fewer times than the Philadelphia 76ers in Sunday afternoon’s 89-82 Game 4 loss, but he couldn't help himself when the topic came up.
"It's crazy," Boozer said of the 31-14 disparity. "I thought we were driving. I thought Luol [Deng] was driving almost every time he got the ball. He was getting contact on a lot of his shots. I thought C.J. [Watson] was driving the ball. There was one play at the end of the game [when] he got hit right in the face. I saw the whole play and he didn't get that call."
But then Boozer channeled his inner Tom Thibodeau. As much he would like to blame the officials for the fact that his team is now down 3-1 in its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, he knows better.
"Listen, we're not going to sit here and blame the referees for our loss," Boozer said. "It was our fault we lost the game. We gave up 25 points in the fourth quarter. There were too many points in the fourth quarter. We didn't lose the game because of the refs, but the discrepancy was huge. And I thought we were being pretty aggressive, we got in the penalty early, but we didn't get as many free throws as they did. That's tough, but at the same time that's not why we lost. We lost because we didn't contain their guards in the fourth quarter."
That doesn't mean Boozer didn't disagree with some of the calls. Specifically, he was upset with a non-call with just 1:11 left in regulation and the Sixers leading 82-80. Boozer grabbed the ball down low, attempted to put up a shot and appeared to be fouled. Only there was no foul call as the officials ruled it a clean block by Elton Brand. The Sixers proceeded to score the next four points and the game was essentially over.
"It was a great pocket pass by C.J.," Boozer explained. "I was trying to go to the hole strong. Obviously, I wanted to get a layup or a dunk. Thought I had some contact, I thought I got fouled to be quite frank about it, but [considering] the fouls they were calling on the other side, I thought that call could have been made. They didn't call it and we just kept playing on."
Thibodeau wasn't biting when asked about it after the game.
"It was a key sequence," Thibodeau said. "It kind of went against us."
Deng says wrist is OK: Deng took a hard fall on his wrist in the first half and appeared to be grabbing at it in pain, but he says he is OK.
"It was one of those falls," he said. "I got hit so I've been trying not to fall on my wrist or fall a little bit into my body, but I got a body hit and it was just a reaction. That's why it was painful."
Deng tore a ligament in his wrist on Jan. 21 but has put off the decision on whether to have surgery to fix the injury until after he plays for Team Great Britain at the London Olympics this summer.
The last word: Rip Hamilton, on the Bulls' mindset going into Game 5:
"One game. One game at a time. Most importantly, we've got to get the game at home, because if we get the game at home then they're going to feel as though that their Game 7 is their [Game 6] home game here. So if we can win that game and then go right from there, we'll be fine."
Boozer wouldn't blame the refs for the loss, but thought fouls were missed.