AL HAMNIK: Bulls' checklist holds the key in Game 4 with Heat

2013-05-11T17:45:00Z 2013-05-20T21:54:38Z AL HAMNIK: Bulls' checklist holds the key in Game 4 with HeatAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 11, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

CHICAGO | You can't stop Sasquatch with spitballs.

And you can't beat the Miami Heat using a rag-tag lineup and a bench that's as deep as a petri dash.

The Bulls faced these obstacles again in Friday night's Game 3, had four starters forced to play 42 minutes or more, their bench outscored 36-8, and lost 104-94.

Wanted: More firepower, preferably a healthy Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Until then, expect more of the same muscle with Miami up 2-1 in the series.

"You can't win a championship being pretty and shiny. You have to get dirty," Chris Bosh said after contributing 20 points and 19 rebounds. "You have to play physical.

"You have to do things that are extremely tough. When push comes to shove, we know what we have to do."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau thought the officiating was one-sided but would not elaborate.

"We're gonna have to play our best game Monday," he said.

The spirit is willing, but the manpower is lacking unless God orders Derrick Rose to finally report for action.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau has a check list longer than his arm that must be addressed.

Carlos Boozer has to be a factor all four quarters, not only the first when he scored 14 of his 21 points and then sort of hung around after that.

Joakim Noah must control his temper when the Heat's Chris "Birdman" Andersen uses little Nate Robinson as a foot stool.

Taj Gibson can't afford another $25,000 league fine for verbally abusing officials like he did after his Game 2 ejection in Miami.

"I deserved it. I was just hoping it wasn't a suspension," he said.

Had it been, John Paxson, Randy Brown, Scottie Pippen and Sidney Green -- all Bulls' employees -- would've tried out for the roster spot.

Silly Nazr Mohammed can't be ejected for pushing LeBron James to the floor in front of 22,675 witnesses at the United Center. That means Noah, the team's only other center, can't leave the court.

"Flagrant foul, OK. But I didn't think it warranted ejection," Thibodeau said in defense of his backup big man. "From my angle, I saw a guy basically flop."

The Bulls can't afford any more technicals, with 10 already in 12 quarters against the Heat.

"You just have to keep playing," Gibson said. "Whatever happens, lips closed. Let the refs do their job and focus on the next play."

To be less talented is one thing, but being out-manned usually results in a quick exit from any venue.

"It's not like when Isiah Thomas and guys damn near had fights every game back in the day and nobody got kicked out," Robinson said. "Now, you've got to play through it."

Thibodeau said the Bulls should be a bit "healthier" for Monday's Game 4.

I hear Pax and Pippen still look good in their old unis.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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