By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com
DEERFIELD, Ill. – A playoff loss at home is red meat to someone like Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Chicago Bulls, so in the 48 hours between Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against Washington, he compiled “an endless list of things we didn’t do correctly.”
Thibodeau had neither the time nor the inclination to share such a list with media inquisitors after the Bulls’ practice Monday, but it’s safe to assume that somewhere up high is: Rebounding. The Wizards beat them on the boards 45-39, including 13-6 in the fourth quarter. Chicago missed 11 shots in that period and reclaimed only two as offensive rebounds.
“When the ball was in the air, that game was decided,” Thibodeau said.
Led by Marcin Gortat‘s 13, Washington’s front line outboarded Chicago’s 28-21.
“We talk about fundamentals,” power forward Nene said. “Box out, for example. All the players need to box out and then the rebound will choose who’s supposed to grab it.”
Oh, that won’t cut it with a coach like Thibs, who considers rebounds a birthright for his team when they’re playing correctly. The Bulls outrebounded their opponents in 65 percent of their games and 73 percent of their victories, going 35-18 on those occasions. But they did it only six times in their final 18 regular-season games.
Among the other bullet points on Thibodeau’s scroll – if it’s that long, calling it a list seems insufficient – were intensity, ball movement (only 13 assists) and defending without fouling. The Wizards shot 35 free throws and outscored Chicago from the line by six; in the regular season, the Bulls gave up the third-fewest number of free throws in the NBA and outscored foes from the line by a total of 230 points.
The Bulls coach also spoke for the third time since Sunday’s final horn of his displeasure with his players’ displeasure with the referees. They got caught complaining when they should have been getting back and defending.
“There’s an appropriate time to make a point to an official,” the Bulls coach said. “If you think they missed something, you have to wait for a dead ball. You don’t do it during the course of a game.
“These officials are good, they’ll talk to you. But it’s got to be at the appropriate time.”
One item apparently not on Thibodeau’s list: Shaking up his fourth-quarter lineups. Though that group struggled to score over Game 1’s final six minutes, prompting some to wonder if Carlos Boozer or Mike Dunleavy might see more late action Tuesday, Thibodeau said: “We’re not going to get away from the guys who have gotten us there. But there are certain things we can do to help each other get open, and we’re going to have to do that.”