Sixers knock out Bulls with improbable finish

By Royce Young | NBA writer

The 76ers have knocked off the top seed in the East. They're advancing to the second round for the first time since 2003.

But my goodness, did it happen in a strange way.

After the Bulls finished a gorgeous pick-and-roll that ended in an Omer Asik dunk, they led 78-75 and appeared to be in great shape to force a Game 7 on their home court. Thaddeus Young was able to score for the Sixers to cut it to one with 12 seconds left.

8-over-1 NBA Playoff upsets
1994Nuggets over Sonics
1999Knicks over Heat
2007Warriors over Mavericks
2011Grizzlies over Spurs
201276ers over Bulls
The Bulls inbounded to C.J. Watson and he sprinted up the floor. Watson, a career 80.7 percent free throw shooter, avoided a foul at midcourt, but instead of just waiting, he dished to Asik under the basket for what appeared to be an easy dunk. Instead, Asik was fouled hard by Spencer Hawes and now a 48.4 percent career free throw shooter was at the line.

Guess what happened.

Andre Iguodala took the second miss straight up the floor, was fouled by Asik and sunk two free throws to send Philadelphia to the second round.

Following the game, Iguodala said, "On the free throws, Tony Battie gave me some advice. He said, 'Think of something you love when you're shooting free throws,' because I've been struggling all year. I thought of my son, and it was easy after that."

The Bulls obviously were in a difficult situation after losing Derrick Rose for the season and then Joakim Noah for most of the series. But they had a great chance to force a Game 7 on their home floor and still make it out of the first round. Instead, No. 1 went down.

The story is, why did Watson pass? Why would he give the ball up? It's simple: He thought Asik had an easy dunk. You can obviously second guess the play and wonder why he didn't just stop and wait to be fouled, but he saw an easy two points and tried to take it. Quite honestly, it was probably the right play. Just so happens that Hawes made a great job recovering to foul Asik hard and prevent the dunk.

All this did was mercifully end a run for the Bulls that died the second Rose crumbled to the floor in Game 1. They weren't going anywhere. Their resiliency to battle back was nice and this is a stinging way to exit, but if it didn't happen now, it was going to happen soon.
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