"Sometimes, you try your hardest and just come up short. There's no shame in that."
I wrote that a year ago, as I dealt with my own personal issues by writing a moderately ridiculous short story based loosely on my life. It's not an original idea, to be sure, but one that stuck with me, for some reason.
I find it to be appropriate tonight. Yes, the Bulls lost. Yes, they trailed for the entire game. Yes, they gave up 101 points on better than 50 percent shooting. Yes, Rajon Rondo ripped the defense to shreds. Yes, they turned the ball over 13 times.
But there were positives. A fair number of them, in fact. Carlos Boozer managed to not completely suck, scoring 15 points and shooting well, for the most part. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah combined for 43 points, 22 rebounds and 6 assists. Marquis Teague finally got some legit burn and actually played really well. He was on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, helping lead a comeback that brought the Bulls to within two with less than a minute left before Boston put the game away. He was significantly better than Nate Robinson, who struggled with his shooting and turned the ball over too much.
Going forward, it's good to know that once Kirk Hinrich comes back from his hip injury, the Bulls have somewhere else to turn if Nate happens to be off on a particular night, which is going to be the case a lot. Noah and Deng continue to play far too many minutes — 42 and 45, respectively — but that's not going to change any time soon.
The bottom line is that the Bulls played hard, fought back and damn near stole a game from a team that figures to get home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It's hard to ask for much more than that, even if they ultimately fell short.
Good job, good effort, Bulls.
Player o' the Game: Joakim Noah. 17 points on 6/10 FG, 5/5 FT, 11 rebounds, 3 assists.
I almost gave it to Deng, but Noah was the one who led the charge in the fourth quarter. He was incredibly efficient, rebounded well, as usual, and did whatever was needed to keep the Bulls in the game.
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