Bulls turn to Thomas in Game 5
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Carlos Boozer grabs a rebound against Miami Heat center Joel Anthony during the first quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday.
Not many teams have recovered from 3-1 deficits to win a playoff series, but Kurt Thomas has been with two that got it done.
Thomas was in his second NBA season with Miami when the Heat rallied from 3-1 down to beat New York in the second round. Then he was on Phoenix in 2007 when the Suns rallied to beat the Lakers in the first round.
So it seemed to be the right time for the Bulls to turn to Thomas, trailing Miami 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals. Until the miraculous comeback in the final three minutes, Thomas made a nice contribution.
The veteran center, 38, played the entire fourth quarter on Thursday. He knocked down a couple of jumpers and finished with 8 rebounds.
"We had our defenders out there," Thomas said. "We showed all year long we could make defensive plays and get stops. We just have to keep our heads. This team has a bright future."
With center Omer Asik sidelined by a broken left fibula, Thomas saw his first playing time of the series when he started the second quarter. His last game action was on May 4 for six minutes in Game 2 against Atlanta in the second round.
In the third quarter, Carlos Boozer helped halt the Bulls' momentum with his second flagrant foul in two games. LeBron James drove the baseline and was hit in the face by Boozer's hand and forearm. The home fans cheered, but that play began a needless parade to the foul line.
Miami ended up shooting 9 free throws in a span of 1:12, which included the flagrant, 3 regular fouls and a technical on Taj Gibson for complaining about one call. The Bulls' lead, which had been as many as 13 points, was down to 62-57 at the end of three.
"I thought they got to the line too much," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So they were able to make up ground with the clock stopped. I also thought that took away from our aggressiveness. I thought we moved our feet well. We had some tough calls go against us and then we backed up (against Miami's shooters). You can't back up against these guys."
Rose takes more blame:
Even after a brilliant season when he carried the Bulls to 62 wins and won the MVP award, Derrick Rose ended the run blaming himself for the Game 5 loss.
Rose finished with 25 points, 8 assists and 5 turnovers. He hit 9 of 29 shots from the field. He missed another vital free throw, though, misfiring on the second shot with a chance to tie the score with 26.7 seconds on the clock. In Game 4, he missed one that would have put the Bulls ahead with 1:10 remaining.
"Everything is on me," Rose said. "Turnovers, missed shots, fouls. If anything, learn from it That's all I can do right now. The series is over with.
"If anything, this is going to make me hungry. Made it this far with this group. Too bad we couldn't get to the Finals, but we've still got a shot next year.
Former Bulls center Artis Gilmore, who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this summer, presented the game ball before Thursday's contest. ... Heading into this one, the Bulls were 1-4 all-time in Game 5s when trailing 3-1. The lone victory was at Detroit in the 2007 second round.
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