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posted: 5/6/2012 8:45 PM

Bulls cry foul over lack of free throws

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  • The Bulls' Taj Gibson glares at a referee after being whistled for a foul in the second half Sunday of an 89-82 defeat against the Sixers in Philadelphia.

    The Bulls' Taj Gibson glares at a referee after being whistled for a foul in the second half Sunday of an 89-82 defeat against the Sixers in Philadelphia.
    Associated Press


PHILADELPHIA -- There have been plenty of frustrating elements to this series for the Bulls.

In Sunday's Game 4 loss, one of the most prominent was a gaping difference in free-throw attempts.

The Sixers shot 31 free throws in Game 4, compared to 14 for the Bulls. In the two games this weekend at the Wells Fargo Center, the Bulls were outscored by 23 points at the foul line, including 14-0 in the final two minutes.

"Quite frankly, I thought we had some good, hard drives that we didn't get calls," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "Sometimes that's the way it goes. When that happens, you've got to go harder, I guess."

Asked his thoughts on whether the Sixers earned their 64-37 advantage in free-throw attempts during the two games in Philadelphia, Thibodeau deferred.

"That's for you to say, not me," he said. "That's part of the game. I thought our guys drove the ball hard. I did."

Carlos Boozer was more specific about the referee complaints, mentioning a play with just over a minute remaining. With the Bulls trailing by 2, Boozer drove to the hoop and had his shot smothered by Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes.

"Obviously, I wanted to get a layup or a dunk, thought I had some contact," Boozer said. "I thought I got fouled to be quite frank about it. The fouls they were calling on the other side, I thought that call could have been made, but they didn't call it."

Boozer mentioned watching C.J. Watson getting hit in the face on a drive to the basket late in the game. On the other end, shooting fouls were called against Kyle Korver and Omer Asik late in the contest that had the Bulls in disbelief.

"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. Again, it's too many points in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't lose the game because of the refs, but the discrepancy was huge. We were being pretty aggressive, 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 couldn't contain their guards in the fourth quarter."

Watson keeps on shooting:

After going scoreless in Game 3, Bulls guard C.J. Watson missed his first 6 shots of Sunday's contest, before finally snapping out of his funk by knocking down a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. He missed his first 11 shots of Games 3 and 4.

Watson ended up with 17 points on 5-of-18 shooting. He knocked down a couple jumpers to keep the Bulls within 2 points during the final three minutes.

"I liked the way he played," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought he would play well today and I liked the way he persevered. When he started the game, he missed some shots early. He didn't let that affect the way he played the rest of the way. Then he got going and got his confidence going a little bit."

Deng lands wrong:

Luol Deng has been trying his best not to fall on his injured left wrist this season. But in the first half of Sunday's game, he drove to the basket, dumped off a pass, and was hit in the air.

After getting knocked off-balance, he ended up bracing his fall with the left wrist, which has had a torn ligament since Jan. 21. Deng immediately grabbed the wrist and was in obvious pain for the next few minutes, but stayed in the game.

"It was one of those falls, I got hit. I've been trying not to fall on my wrist. I got a body hit, and it was just a reaction. That's why it was painful."

This has been a rough series all around for Deng. He scored 11 points on Sunday after totaling 13 in the previous two contests.

Precedent for comeback:

There is an example in NBA history of a No. 1 seed falling behind 3-1 against a No. 8 and rallying to win the series. It happened in 2003 when Detroit fell behind against Orlando, then won three straight.

Bulls guard Richard Hamilton was on that Pistons team, as was Philadelphia assistant Michael Curry. After Sunday's game, Sixers coach Doug Collins had Curry provide history lesson in the locker room.

"The message is, what I tried to impart as well, is that Game 5 has to be as important to us as it is to the Bulls," Collins said. "A closeout game is the hardest game to win in sports. We've got to go into Chicago with the idea that we've got to try to get that win."

Bull horns:

After not playing in Game 3, Ronnie Brewer was back on the floor at the start of the second quarter on Sunday. He played 17 minutes. ... At halftime, Philadelphia guards Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Lou Williams were a combined 4-for-28 from the field, yet the Sixers led 44-42.

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