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updated: 5/2/2013 11:40 PM

Gutty effort goes for naught

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  • Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls sits on the bench after drawing his sixth foul in Game 6 of the first round playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago, Thursday, May 2, 2013.

    Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls sits on the bench after drawing his sixth foul in Game 6 of the first round playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago, Thursday, May 2, 2013.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer


The Bulls suffered one of the best losses in the history of losses Thursday night.

The Nets won 95-92 in the United Center to even an NBA first-round playoff series 3-3, but consider a few snapshots of the Bulls in this game.


Here is the Bulls' starting lineup missing Kirk Hinrich (bruised calf) and Luol Deng (flu-like symptoms).

There's a second-quarter lineup of Jimmy Butler, Marquis Teague, Rip Hamilton, Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson.

Sitting on the bench is Derrick Rose still looking as dapper as ever in street clothes.

All of those pictures reveal a bit of the story of this game but one more had to be most revealing: Nate Robinson, the Bulls' starter at point guard in place of Hinrich and Rose, planted on the bench in the third quarter.

Robinson, with his own case of the flu, had a towel wrapped around his head while throwing up into a barf bucket.

The Bulls' starters on this night were more like an NBA bench and their bench more like a D-League team, and that was before Gibson and Carlos Boozer fouled out.

The Bulls had no business even being close to the Nets yet had a shot at tying a one-possession game in the final seconds.

"If there's a team in the league that plays harder than (the Bulls)," Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said, "I don't know who it is."

These were two desperate teams. A Nets loss would eliminate them and a Bulls loss would send them back to Brooklyn as underdogs in Game 7 on Saturday.

But the Bulls looked like the only team on the court playing with desperation, competing with their customary passion and energy. The Nets looked like they're customary emotionless selves like they figured this victory was inevitable ... which maybe it was.

Injuries and illness left the Bulls undermanned. The five players that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had on the court often was both mismatched with each other and overmatched against the Nets.

Bulls' players were playing different roles with different partners. At times they resembled a pickup team at the YMCA or a celebrity team consisting of Z-list celebrities.

During the first half the Bulls were sort of introducing themselves to each other on defense but in the second half made the Nets' offense look like a losing YMCA team.

Still, the Bulls kept giving themselves opportunities to catch the Nets, except that those shots were taken a couple times by seldom-used rookie Teague and the exhausted Robinson.

"It's tough," Gibson said. "But everybody's picking up for each other. We just keep striving, keep pushing."

And keep playing. And then playing and playing some more.

Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes, Marco Belinelli 46 minutes, Joakim Noah 43 minutes with plantar fasciitis and Robinson 42 minutes despite spilling his guts.

"We gave it everything we could," Robinson said. "No excuses. You have to play through everything."

Now the Bulls have a couple days to regroup, maybe get Deng and Hinrich back, and give it everything they have left again in Game 7.

If they win that one, they just might be able to celebrate what just might be one of the best victories in the history of victories.">

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