Ridiculous. Jaw-dropping. Incredible. Epic. Amazing.
Take a deep breath, everyone. We're not done yet.
The words above do not even begin to do justice for the Game 6 insanity that took place Thursday night in the United Center. After 63 minutes of basketball, including the fifth, sixth and seventh overtimes of the series along with a slew of even more clutch shots, Chicago managed to sneak out with a 128-127 3-OT thriller over the Boston Celtics.
Joakim Noah's strip, steal and three-point play was the difference in a Game 6 for the history books.Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty
A decisive Game 7 is on the horizon and will arrive at 8 p.m. Saturday night in the TD Banknorth Garden.
If you thought this series had reached its climax when it broke the NBA Playoffs record with its third overtime game of the series Tuesday night, you had another thing coming tonight.
It was a game for the ages, and while some would say the real drama started with a Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich tussle with 28.0 seconds left in the first quarter, you have to fast forward to about the 10:00 mark of the fourth to see the real craziness begin.
Tyrus Thomas' slam dunk at the 10:16 mark put the Bulls up 88-76, matching their largest lead of the game (and series), and capped a 16-3 run dating back to the third quarter.
For the second consecutive game, it seemed like Chicago was going to run away with a victory in the final period. But yet again, the Celtics wouldn't cooperate with those plans.
Doc Rivers called an immediate timeout and whatever he dished out in that huddle, he's better get a patent on it. The Celtics came out of that timeout and went on a 21-3 run that included a stretch of 18 unanswered points. Prior to Derrick Rose's made driving layup that ended a 5:51 scoreless drought for Chicago, they had already fallen behind the Celtics 99-91.
The Celtics held a 101-96 advantage with 1:06 remaining when Brad Miller stepped up and delivered a three-pointer to keep the Bulls' hopes alive. After Allen missed at the other end, Miller drove to the basket and tied the game at 101-101 with a layup in traffic with 29.7 seconds left in regulation.
"We were down in the fourth and game back and took the lead and we stopped playing," Doc Rivers said. "We tried to hold on and that's not how we got the lead."
Out of a Celtics timeout, Paul Pierce fired up a jumper from the same spot he nailed four in a row two nights prior, but this time he came up short. With that, it was on to overtime for the fourth time in six games.
In overtime, two straight missed jump shots by Kendrick Perkins combined with more offense from Miller allowed Chicago to take a 107-103 lead with 2:12 remaining. Pierce then went to work at the foul line and in the process got Ben Gordon to foul out of the game. His four consecutive free throws tied the game at 107-107.
Glen Davis then hit a jumper over Hinrich to give the C's a 109-107 advantage, but the unstoppable Salmons would not be denied at the other end and tied it up on a driving layup with 23.5 seconds remaining. Pierce's potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer would not fall and overtime session No. 2 was ordered up.
Double-overtime went back and forth, with the Bulls grabbing a 116-113 lead on Salmons' drive with 2:00 remaining. Allen then took a pass in the right corner from Pierce and made one of the most ridiculous jumpers of the series -- and that's saying a lot -- that was thought to have tied the game at 116. He drilled it right in Joakim Noah's face to bring his nightly total to 46 points, but after video review it was determined that Allen's toe was slightly touching three-point arc.
"When I think about how long I've been in this game, and how much I shoot, I always know where I am on the floor," Allen said. "I knew we needed a three. I knew I needed to score but it was just a game of inches."
Miller sank two free throws to give the Bulls a three-point cushion, but Allen's heroics weren't done. Once again, he came up huge and sank a game-tying three-pointer over Hinrich with 7.6 seconds left on the clock. The Bulls did not get a shot off after calling timeout and sent the game to the third OT.
Still, neither team could pull away and the score was tied at 123 with less than a minute remaining when Noah made the biggest play of his career. He stripped Pierce and took the ball the length of the floor for a rim-rocking dunk -- and one. The free throw gave the Bulls a 126-123 lead with 35.5 seconds left and sent Pierce to the bench with his sixth foul.
"Once I got the steal I thought I would get fouled right away," Noah said of the play. "But I just dribbled it down the court. The foul never came. I just dunked it in."
Boston came out of a timeout and for the second time in five minutes, the C's hit a deep jumper that was just inches away from tying the game. This one was hit by Eddie House.
With Chicago leading 128-127, Kirk Hinrich was left wide open on an inbounds play and went to the basket for an uncontested layup. Rondo came out of nowhere to challenge the shot at the last second, but Hinrich inexplicably missed the layup and gave Boston more hope of closing out the series.
Boston called timeout, but on the ensuing possession Rondo's shot attempt on a drive was blocked by Rose, in turn ending one of the most memorable games played in recent NBA history.
Said Noah of what he's currently taking part in: "It's special to be part of this series that people will be talking about for a long time."
The final lines were simply crazy. Allen dropped a cool playoff career-high 51 on 18-of-32 shooting. Pierce and Glen Davis were Boston's other top scorers at 23 and 22 apiece, respectively. Rondo was quiet with his shooting but finished the game with a ridiculous 19 assists compared to no turnovers. He finished the game with eight points, nine rebounds and 19 assists.
Chicago had three big scorers as well, with Salmons leading the way on a 35-point night. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Derrick Rose had another superb game with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Miller, who missed free throws that could have potentially forced another overtime Tuesday night, rebounded with a spectacular 23-point, 10-rebound game on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Rondo and Hinrich got into a minor altercation in the first quarter while getting tangled up. Rondo swiped Hinrich off of him and into the scorers' table, and as Hinrich got up off the floor, he ran after Rondo and chest bumped him while continually driving the Celtics' point guard backwards. Rondo received a Flagrant 1 foul on the play and Hinrich was assessed a technical.
It was a play that epitomized this series thus far. Physical and intense with no one backing down.
Luckily for NBA fans, we're not done. Game 7 is on the way Saturday night for a series that prior to tonight was already being mentioned as the greatest ever.
Advice is that you plan accordingly. You won't want to miss this. It's history in the making.