Ball Don't Lie

Carlos Boozer throws ‘as bad a pass as you will see by a pro’ (VIDEO)

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

That quote in the headline is how ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico described this pass thrown by Carlos Boozer during the second quarter of Game 4 between the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday afternoon, an extraordinarily errant air mail captured by our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute. Hubie Brown, Tirico's partner on the broadcast, had a more succinct, visceral description: "OHHHHHH, my!"

"It just kept rising as it was coming across the floor," the legendary coach and color commentator said with a laugh.

To be fair, it takes time to learn where your teammates like to catch the ball in the flow of the offense, and Boozer has only played with Kyle Korver (the presumed target of that pass) for two years and 145 games five years and many hundreds of games, going back to their time together with the Utah Jazz, which I forgot about this morning, because I'm dumb. How is he supposed to know that "five feet above my head and about seven rows back in the stands" isn't Korver's sweet spot? Between refining his ever-present "GIMME THAT S***" rebounding battle cry and getting his skull-painting game on point, it's not like he's had time to practice playing point.

The heave was one of five turnovers for Boozer on the day, but certainly not his most costly. That came in the game's final minute, with Chicago trailing 84-80 following two Jrue Holiday free throws and 51.5 seconds on the clock.

After a Bulls timeout to advance the ball up court, C.J. Watson triggered the play by inbounding to Boozer at the elbow. Boozer represented that he would hand the ball back to Watson, who was cutting from the sideline toward the middle of the floor at the top of the key, to get Chicago into an offensive set. With Elton Brand overplaying Boozer's back side to hedge and cut off any attempt at penetration by Watson on the prospective screen and roll, and Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes occupied on the opposite side of the lane with Bulls big man Taj Gibson, Boozer smartly realized that he had a clear run to the basket, quickly turned left to drive to the hoop to cut the Philly lead to two ... and promptly lost control of the ball, sending it out of bounds under the basket and returning possession to the Sixers.

After Boozer's late-game abdication of handle, Philly would make 5 of 6 free throws in the final 30 seconds to come away with an 89-82 Game 4 win and take an improbable 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven opening-round matchup with the East's top overall seed.

Focusing on just that blooper pass and that costly turnover isn't the fairest estimate of the two-time All-Star forward's performance, though. On Sunday, Boozer presented the only halfway legitimate source of regular offense for a Bulls side that often looked otherwise punchless without leading stars Derrick Rose (out for the season with a torn left ACL) and Joakim Noah (out for Game 4, and likely Game 5, with a severely sprained left ankle).

Boozer scored a game-high 23 points (albeit on 24 attempts), 11 rebounds and four assists in a team-leading 41 1/2 minutes for Chicago and, as Bulls by the Horns' Matt McHale noted after the game, seemed to have been given the short end of the stick by the officials on Chicago's previous trip down the floor, when he was clearly fouled by Brand on a drive to the basket but earned no whistle, while Holiday was sent to the line on the next play for what appeared to be much, much less contact delivered by Watson. (Later, Boozer questioned both that no-call and a free-throw disparity that saw Philly take 31 shots from the stripe compared to just 14 for the Bulls.)

Rightly or wrongly, though, the things that Boozer did well will be obscured by the things he did poorly. That's what happens in the playoffs, especially when the things you did poorly helped inch your team closer to a first-round exit.

Is the clip at the top of this post not working for you? Feel free to check out Boozer's air mail elsewhere, thanks to 609phillies.

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