The Mavericks won a 132-129 double-overtime thriller in Chicago on Tuesday, but the Bulls probably feel like they should have won it in regulation.
Leading by three, Kirk Hinrich fouled Monta Ellis behind the three-point line with 1.2 seconds remaining. It’s the smart play, allowing two free throws instead of a potentially game-tying shot — provided the foul is committed on the floor before a shot can be attempted.
Hinrich waited too long, however, and Ellis was able to get into his shooting motion as he was fouled. The result was three free throws, and Ellis sank them all to force the first of two overtime sessions.
Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t shy about giving his true opinion of the play afterward.
“In my 17 years, it was one of the dumber fouls I’ve ever seen,” Nowitzki said in a matter-of-fact tone. “You wait all the way until he dribbles to the 3-point line to grab him, so that’s obviously a tough one, tough play. I saw coach [Tom] Thibodeau was just shaking his head.” …
“I waited too long. I messed it up,” Hinrich said. “It was a bonehead play. I know better than that. This one’s on me because I felt like we played a good game to that point. To get back to the point we were in a position to win. For them to tie it up on a play like that, it was a bad decision.”
This is an example of why that particular strategy is so tricky to execute.
Hinrich wasn’t close enough to foul Ellis earlier in the possession, and by the time he caught up to him — with the mission of fouling firmly on his mind — Ellis was close enough to the basket where a shot attempt was a reasonable proposition.