CHICAGO – Back in mid-January, following yet another desultory home loss to the Suns, Tom Thibodeau crinkled up his face and offered a quote for the ages about readiness to play.
“If they say we’re playing at midnight on the roof, you should be saying let’s get the ladders.”
As the Bulls trudged off the United Center floor for possibly the last time this season late Monday, 88-65 losers to the Heat, they could’ve added lifeline to ladders on their checklist of things to pack for Miami.
A season filled with pluck and grit gave way to a night of record-setting offensive ineptitude, with a three-game win streak against the defending NBA champions the only possible remedy. The Bulls never have won a playoff series in which they trailed 3-1.
They also never had scored so few points or shot so poorly in franchise playoff history.
Their 25.7 percent shooting shattered the previous lowlight of 31.1 percent in the Game 7 Eastern Conference finals loss at Detroit on June 3, 1990. Their previous low of 69 points also came at Detroit in a second-round series on May 5, 2007.
The Bulls also set a new low for playoff points in a quarter by scoring nine in the third.
Memo to Bulls: Wednesday’s Game 5 tips at 6 p.m.
LeBron James’ 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Heat, who led by as many as 25.
Carlos Boozer’s 14 points and 12 rebounds led the Bulls. But like everybody else, he missed a lot too, clanking 11-for-14 from the field.
After such a season of thrills, Nate Robinson’s likely final home game as a Bull featured him missing all 12 shots with four turnovers. The only players to go 0-for-12 or worse in a playoff game since 1986 are Ray Allen, who missed 13 straight in 2010, and Paul Pressey, who missed 12 consecutive in 1987.
The Bulls came out more slowly than rush hour on the Kennedy. They missed 11 of their first 12 shots with three turnovers and trailed 11-2 before Thibodeau could scream himself hoarse.
Robinson missed six shots in the first quarter alone, and he and Marco Belinelli set the tone for the Bulls’ dreadful 3-point shooting by missing all eight attempts early.
Not even a surprise appearance by Richard Hamilton when Marco Belinelli drew his third foul in the second quarter could jumpstart the offense. Wade briefly exited, hobbling on his sore right knee, and didn’t score until a dunk at 7:44 of the third.
Star of the game: LeBron James, Heat, 27 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds
Up next: Game 5 – Bulls at Heat, 6 p.m. Thursday (TNT/1000 AM)