The Chicago Bulls are grievously outmanned, short on offensive production and thin off the bench. They may not win another game in this series, but the sheer effort they showed in their 77-69 Game 5 victory over the Sixers was pretty inspiring. This was not what you would call a pretty basketball game, but there was something beautiful in the Bulls' resilience, fire and especially their elite defense. Even playing without Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, it's easy to see how this team won 50 games during the regular season.
I'm glad that the Bulls extended that series just to give the Sixers more of a grind. On the other hand, as a younger team, they might just benefit from more games. Perhaps if they won last night they'd get overconfident and out of rhythm. Either way, they'll play the proud Bulls again.
In other news, it is always a good thing when the Lakers lose.
"Closeout games are actually kind of easy," Bynum had said a day earlier. "Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning." That was all the motivation the Nuggets needed. They took control of Game 5, weathering Kobe Bryant's 43 points and a late rally to beat the Lakers 102-99 and extend their season another couple days. The Lakers lead the first-round series 3-2. Game 6 is Thursday.
Turns out the Pacers were the only ones that were able to finish off their opponent last night.
Give Bird and his front office credit. Give Frank Vogel, who needs to have the third year of his contract guaranteed (and now) credit. And give these players credit for turning themselves into the type of team -- emphasis on team -- that this city and region can embrace without hesitation. With a bit more than a minute left in the Pacers' 105-87 series-clincher over the Orlando Magic, the chant went up from Area 55: "Beat the Heat! Beat the Heat!'' Then the rest of the crowd joined in.
That should be an interesting series.