The Bulls weren't ready for their season to end and they played like it during Game 5 Tuesday night at the United Center.
“It's about time we closed a game,” said Carlos Boozer who contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Chicago had lost the last three games in the fourth quarter. Facing elimination, they finally went out and played a full 48 minutes, forcing a Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
“We're the Chicago Bulls, man. We feel like the last few games, we let our city down. We let our fans down,” said John Lucas III.
“People were saying that we didn't have any heart and all that, but that's what we play with – that's all we play with – our heart. If you watch us play, we're not out there just going through the motions, we're out there grinding. We're trying to win.”
The Bulls displayed a lot of heart and a lot of physicality in a close-out game that sent a message to the Sixers that they weren't going down without a fight. After the game, Sixers Head Coach Doug Collins immediately pointed to the physical nature of the game and credited Chicago's defense as well.
“Give the Bulls all the credit tonight. They came out tonight and they were incredibly physical,” said Collins.
“The Bulls did what they had to do tonight," he said. "They won the game. We've got to go home and we've got to be more efficient offensively. That's three games in a row now they've held us to under 40 percent [shooting]. That's one of the reasons why they're able to win with injuries because their defense always gives them a chance.”
Speaking of injuries, the Bulls playoff run this year wouldn't be complete without them, right?
Taj Gibson went down with a sprained ankle late in the third quarter while going for a block attempt on Philadelphia's Lavoy Allen. But the heart that John Lucas referred to was present in Gibson, and he said as much after the game.
“I was going back in regardless of the pain,” he said. “I was only worried about riding until the wheels came off. It was do or die. Nobody wants to get eliminated at home. You battle until you can't battle no more.”
The Bulls earned the right to continue battling as they face elimination once again on Thursday night.