NBA Backpedals on Critical Bulls Decision

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls reacts after missing the potential game winning three point basket vs WAS.

By the time the regular season comes to a close, the Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Washington Wizards will be a not-so-fond but distant memory. Falling 102-100 on the road after battling back from being down by as many as 17 points is nothing to be ashamed of.

That doesn’t mean the latest update from the NBA is going to feel any better for players (or fans) still feeling the sting of such a close loss.

It seems the Bulls’ valiant effort did not fall short but was instead cut short by the referees.

The league released its customary “last two-minute report” for the Bulls-Wizards tile which, as the name suggests, details all call made during the final two minutes of a game. Its purpose is transparency but, as is sure to be the case for the Bulls, it often leads to frustration over officiating.

DeMar DeRozan Got Robbed

In the closing seconds of the game, DeMar DeRozan got a screen from center Nikola Vucevic and found himself with forward Anthony Gill in front of him. But Washington also flanked Gill with size in Deni Avdija and skill with Delon Wright – a formidable wall for DeRozan.

The five-time All-Star pulled up for the potential winning three but the shot rimmed in before popping out and into the hands of Avdija as the clock hit triple zeros.

Per the league, the game should have continued.

“Gill (WAS) contests DeRozan’s (CHI) jump shot attempt and initiates contact with his foot before DeRozan has returned to the floor.”

DeRozan – a career 83.7% free-throw shooter – should have had three more tries from the line.

He had already taken seven, hitting six, drawing the defensive attention of Wizard’s star Bradley Beal who took it upon himself to guard DeRozan down the stretch.

“They called a foul on the baseline and I was like, ‘just let me guard him’, Beal said of the decision to guard DeRozan. “Give him a different look. Mess with the ball, jab at the all, tap his elbow without the ref looking. Doing this little stuff that I can get away with because they were really whistle-happy down there.”

Foul or not — it was the game’s only incorrect call — Beal thought DeRozan’s shot was good.

Some might argue the Bulls could have gotten a cleaner look. And Vucevic did miss a three for the lead a bit earlier on a similar-looking play. But the truth is the game was in the hands of the officials and, regardless of if they blew the call or not, that is a bad position to put yourself in.

Bulls Need ‘Plan Z’

The Bulls missed two-time All-Star Zach LaVine in this game. For as impressive as they were on both ends against the Heat, they were much more predictable against the Wizards leading Beal to say he essentially knew how to slow down DeRozan.

LaVine is set to make his season debut in Saturday’s home opener but looked rusty in the preseason.

How quickly can he get up to speed for a tweaked Bulls offense that needs his creativity?

Perhaps even more significant, how much will they be able to rely on him this season? He was a different player after last season’s knee injury sapped his explosiveness and required offseason surgery. The Bulls need him as close to full strength as possible to reach their full potential.