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The only thing worth talking about from Sunday’s loss

Really. That's it.

Unless you wanted to get into how Chicago's big three of Gordon, Hinrich and Deng combined for 63 points, or how Big Ben turned back the clock (in a good way this time) with 17 boards, or how Chris Webber went 0-for-Chicago, or how Rasheed Wallace missed 10 three-pointers ... that Flip Murray dunk is probably the only thing worth remembering from this game.

(Though even that dunk lost some of it's "cool factor" when Murray proceeded to miss the ensuing free-throw and Hinrich immediately drew a foul on the other end ... but still, for at least a moment, it helped take the sting off what was a frustrating game to watch.)

[Update: Murray's stare-down is vindicated! Witness Hinrich's nut shot in the third angle of the replay. (Thanks to Justin for pointing it out.)]

The final score is both accurate and deceiving at the same time, if that makes any sense. The Bulls were in control of the game for good once they closed out the first half with an 11-1 run to take a seven-point lead into halftime. A disastrous third quarter saw Detroit trailing by as many as 23, but that was followed by a predictable comeback bid which saw the Pistons cut the lead to single-digits late in the fourth.

Unfortunately, the Pistons could never quite get over the hump. The key play as I saw it down the stretch was when Chauncey Billups was posting up with the Pistons down seven with a few minutes left in the game. A bucket would have made it a two-possession game, but instead Billups was called for charging. Ben Gordon quickly hit a three on the other end, turning a would-be two-possession game into a double-digit deficit.

That was pretty much it. The Pistons tried to stretch out the clock with some fouls, even turning to the Hack-a-Ben strategy, which was foiled when Ben Wallace hit three of four free throws (and good for him -- I've always thought that was an ugly way to play the game). All of that constant fouling to stop the clock at the end allowed Chicago to pad their lead.

So while a 15-point loss is deceiving in that Detroit actually had a chance to win late in the game, it's accurate in that they had no business winning. Chicago shot extremely well (49.3% compared to Detroit's 37.3%) and killed Detroit on the boards (51 to 33).

This was a frustrating game, but let's keep things in perspective: no one predicted a sweep before Game 1, and most of us would have been happy with a split in Chicago. With their backs against the wall, the Bulls finally came to play for the first time the entire series.

It was bound to happen sooner or later -- despite their best efforts to convince you otherwise in the first three games, the Bulls are in fact a good team. Certainly not a title contender, no, but definitely a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. Besides, the silver lining (there isn't one, I'm being kind) is that ticket-holders for Game 5 now have a chance to see the Pistons clinch the series at home on Tuesday.

Bulls 102, Pistons 87 box score [ESPN]
Flip Murray's Dunk In, On and Over Kirk Hinrich's Face [FanHouse]