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SportsMonday: Overtimes In Overdrive

Ho hum, another couple last-second, game-tying three-pointers leading to scintillating overtime victories for the Bulls in the last week. When do the playoffs start again?

Oh, and the Blackhawks had some excitement at the end of regulation as the post-season began out in Arizona didn't they? The games were pretty late though. I had a spot of trouble staying awake.

Good Lord what a week for Chicago sports. Even the baseball teams were better, although the fragile Cubs backslid over the weekend. And if we can just hang in there and continue to overcome little difficulties like late starts and impatience for the march to the NBA Eastern Conference finals, I think we might just have some similar fun in the next seven days.

The Pistons did a decent job limiting Derrick Rose's effectiveness Sunday but they made one critical mistake and paid for it in the end (of regulation). They messed with his face.

Go ahead and take your shots, Rose might say if forced to address physical play with a foe. But keep it below the neck.

Rose rarely protests after body blows but he had plenty to say Sunday after he took a shot to the head. Charlie "Unfulfilled Potential" Villanueva (he had a good game Sunday but that exception proved the rule - that he is a talented player who usually, i.e. during the season up until yesterday, doesn't play as well as he should) didn't go for the ball and gouged the bridge of Rose's nose. The point guard was not happy.

And while it wasn't a great game for Rose, he hit an awesome shot when it counted, calmly draining an off-the-dribble three-pointer to tie it up at 86 heading into the extra session.

The Bulls have six games left, wrapping up the regular season with a back-to-back versus the Pacers and the Cavaliers on April 25 and 26, respectively. They have just about clinched everything, taking a three-and-a half game lead over the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference into this week. They also lead Oklahoma City by two games in the race for the best record in the league.

One irritating element to Sunday's game was the fact that coach Tom Thibodeau screwed up the minutes again. Tom, there is no reason in the universe either Luol Deng or Derrick Rose should be playing more than 40 minutes in any of the remaining regular season games. I don't care if a contest goes to triple overtime, keep their minutes down! Come on!

You may be on the verge of a second consecutive Coach of the Year award but you don't help your cause when you play Deng 44 minutes in the first of back-to-back games (the Bulls host the terrible Wizards tonight). And there was Rose, in his second game back from an ankle injury, on the court for more than 41 minutes.

Deng is clearly still feeling the effects of the left wrist injury he suffered more than a month ago and especially on nights when he isn't shooting well (he went 1-for-8 from the field against the Pistons) he needs to just sit down. Put exciting rookie Jimmy Butler in there.

And don't tell me that because Deng contributes in so many ways it is just paramount that he be in there at the end of close games. First of all, he had all of eight rebounds on Sunday (third on the team). And he almost blew the game with a brutal five-second violation when the Bulls had the ball down two with less than 30 seconds remaining. Fortunately Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey missed another crucial free throw (he had also gone one-of-two from the line the possession before) and only stretched the lead to three instead of four to set up Rose's big shot.

Hawk Tawk
They aren't really going to suspend the Hawks' Andrew Shaw for Coyote goalie Mike Smith's ridiculous acting job on Saturday are they?

Shaw made a little contact with Smith behind the net but Smith should immediately seek work as an actor in a high school theatrical production where he can then bust out some sort of gloriously overdone death scene. The way he spun around, flailed his arms and flung away his gloves, well, I'm sure he would get a standing ovation on the dinner theater circuit.

Overall the Hawks have to feel pretty lucky. They have been the better team in this series but have trailed in both games heading into the final 30 seconds. Brent Seabrook is the man, scoring the game-tier with 14 seconds to go in regulation last Thursday and setting up the game-tying goal with 5.5 seconds left in the third on Saturday.

But the Hawks took it to the absolute limit of being down 2-0. Let's hope they can find a way to win a little less dramatically tomorrow night at 8.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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