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updated: 4/29/2014 11:00 PM

At least Bulls players tried their best

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  • Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich scrambles for a loose ball with the Wizards' Nene defending during Tuesday night's game at the United Center.

      Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich scrambles for a loose ball with the Wizards' Nene defending during Tuesday night's game at the United Center.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


The try-hard Bulls didn't exactly die hard Tuesday night.

They just died.

The Bulls' season ended quietly with the Washington Wizards collecting offensive rebound after offensive rebound in the final minutes.

The Wizards won the NBA East quarterfinal playoff series in five games with a 75-69 victory in the United Center.

"I was proud of the team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought they gave us everything they had. There was nothing left."

It was painful to watch Taj Gibson leave with an ankle injury and Joakim Noah grimace with a variety of ailments and Mike Dunleavy appear to be a game-long slow-motion replay.

The Bulls looked all night like they were playing on their last legs, running in place after loose balls they couldn't reach.

"The job (Tom Thibodeau) does with those guys is phenomenal," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the Bulls' coach.

All those minutes trying to win all those regular-season games caught up with the Bulls and confirmed the suspicion that they simply never were built for the postseason. After Derrick Rose went down with another knee injury 10 games into the season, the Bulls essentially morphed into the Cubs.

Just as the Cubs are doing, the Bulls began looking toward the distant future instead of the near future.

By the Bulls, I mean the front office rather than the players.

Luol Deng was traded for whatever reason, to get under the luxury-tax threshold or to qualify for the draft lottery by missing the playoffs or to overall position the team for summer free agency.

So the Bulls weren't any more committed to advance as far as possible this season than the Cubs are.

Bulls management has been looking to the future, to July, to pursuing Carmelo Anthony, to everything but supporting the current roster.

As it turns out, the Bulls aren't in the lottery because the players wouldn't give up and might not get Anthony because doing so would be a complicated tangle.

Commitment is everything in sports. Partial commitments are nothing. Just ask the Cubs as they flounder through another season. Just ask the Bulls after the Wizards eliminated them.

Would Deng have made a difference against Washington? We'll never know, but another live body certainly wouldn't have hurt.

The Wizards aren't exactly an elite team. They have some elite players but are young and inexperienced in the playoffs. But all it took was 75 points to oust the Bulls, who in retrospect were finished when the Wiz hit the 70 mark with 5:23 left in the game.

If the Wizards were very good, they would have won this game by 20 points. But they were just good enough to win by 6 even though the Bulls shot only 33 percent from the floor for the game.

"The coach and players that are here … a lot of heart," Wittman said of the Bulls. "There's no quit in those guys."

Maybe it's best that the no-quit Bulls lost as soon as they did. They weren't exactly the talk of the town anyway.

The Blackhawks own the sports landscape here right now. The White Sox' Jose Abreu is capturing some imaginations. Oh, yeah, basketball-wise, commentary on Donald Sterling's racist ramblings dominated the airwaves.

There was no basketball buzz. Not even Bulls fans seemed to believe in their team. How could they when the club's management didn't?

There was a sense that the Bulls were committed as an organization but not to this particular season. Doesn't that sound so much so often like the Cubs and so many other teams in town?

So, like the Cubs historically, Bulls players will have to wait to next year to try hard to die hard a lot later than this year.

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