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Come to Think of It: Flagrantly Foul Referees Cost Bulls in O.T. Loss

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IApril 29, 2009

I hate making excuses, but boy, was this ever a horrendous mistake by a referee crew in an NBA game.

I know it will sound like sour grapes, but facts are facts, and the refs certainly blew it at the end of an overtime win for the Boston Celtics over the Chicago Bulls in Tuesday's playoff matchup.

As Bulls center Brad Miller went up for what looked to be an easy layup, he was smacked in the head and fouled. Yet no flagrant foul was called.

True, Miller would have tied the game by making both free throws, but had the play been called as it should have, the Bulls would have won the game.

Look, Miller's face was bleeding, for crying out loud.

The man had to have stitches in his mouth after the game.

And that doesn't qualify as flagrant? Then just what does?

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Instead, Miller missed the first attempt, then missed the second on purpose. But his second shot didn't touch the rim, and the game was over.

Yes, Paul Pierce stepped up when needed. "I just thought when Ray fouled out it was time for me to really step up," said Pierce, who scored 12 points in the 10 minutes after Allen left the game. "Better late than never."

And yes, Rajon Rondo had another strong game, with 28 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.

And yes, Kendrick Perkins had 19 rebounds and seven blocks for the Celtics.

But I still can't help but think about the flagrant foul that wasn't called.

Here was what Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro had to say following the loss.

"We got a lot of guys getting head shots this series—I mean a whole lot of them—and it hasn't been a flagrant. So everybody's had to shake off these high hits," Miller said. "I didn't see it but I felt it. ... There was blood on the floor. I don't even know if they got it all cleaned off."

Meanwhile, the Bulls let an 11 point fourth quarter lead slip away. They needed Derrick Rose to step up, but he wasn't up to the task.

So yes, it was an awful non-call by the refs, as Boston took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. But the Bulls had chances to win the game despite the mistake and now are in a must-win situation.

Blood in the NHL gets you an automatic four minute double-minor. In the NBA, it gets you a loss.

The Celtics should thank the refs for this one, come to think of it.

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