How do I put this in a mature and fair manner?
Let’s go with this: The Chicago Bulls’ final possession last night was poo poo. Does that work?
Zach LaVine deserves all the credit in the world for putting together another stellar performance where he dropped 38 points on a highly efficient 15-28 shooting effort from the field. Unfortunately, he also deserves practically all the blame for the mind-boggling final possession that made the Bulls’ loss to an undermanned Washington squad that much more embarrassing.
After Kyle Kuzma knocked down an absurd fadeaway 3-pointer to give the Wizards a 100-97 lead with 5.1 seconds left, the Bulls called a timeout. The one and only option coming off the inbound play felt obvious: Shoot a dang 3. What did LaVine do? Well, he snatched the ball, put it on the ground, and started running right toward two Wizards defenders. He eventually rose up for a mid-range shot at the elbow, which he missed and allowed the clock to expire.
If you missed it, grab a puke bucket and watch below:
I know … what the heck was that?
Billy Donovan was immediately asked about the final possession after the game, and the head coach confirmed that the call was – duh – for the team to shoot a 3.
“Obviously, we were down by 3. It was a play to get a 3, but they also had a foul to give,” Donovan said in LaVine’s defense. “So I don’t know if he thought if maybe he could kind of bring the ball through and he could kind of draw something. Like I said, they had a foul to give and they were up 3. Maybe a decent likelihood they would try to foul, so I didn’t know what it was. But we were certainly trying to get a three, but we also wanted them to know they had a foul to give, too.”
Indeed, Washington did have a foul to give, which is exactly what LaVine said he was trying to draw on that final sequence.
“We’re just trying to get a 3 off. I think it was Delon Wright, he fouled me, so my instinct was to go up and get a 3-point play. I pulled up, he fouled me, I shot it. They didn’t call it. That’s how it is,” LaVine told reporters (h/t The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry).
To LaVine’s credit, Wright can be seen immediately turning to the ref and motioning toward the court as if he was expecting the foul call and wanting to signal that it was on the floor. Wright did pretty clearly reach in on a driving LaVine intentionally, and he told the Bulls’ star as much:
“That’s what he [Wright] told me after the game,” LaVine said. “They [the refs] said they missed it and that’s how it is. I could have pulled up deep from 3, but once I walked into it and he tried to grab me I tried to throw the ball up.”
So, yeah, I guess that kinda sorta (but not really) explains things.
I still think it’s pretty absurd not to get off a 3-point shot there. I can at least somewhat understand the thought that LaVine wants to get fouled and either give the team a chance at another inbound play or sink a possible and-one bucket to tie the game. But you know what is more foolproof than relying on refs that have screwed you over all season long? SHOOTING THE DANG 3!
This team gives me headaches.