The game is tied, 123-123.Â Rondo grabs a rebound and bring the ball up court. He crosses halfcourt with 50.4 seconds on the game clock, 18 on the shot clock.
Pierce jogs behind him, slowly drifting to the block as Davis comes up to take the ball just to the right of the top of the key. Allen has Hinrich blanketing him on the right wing, Sclabrine is ready as ever to catch and shoot if his man, Joakim Noah drifts away.
As Davis gets the ball, Allen swerves left then right to set an off the ball pick for Pierce. Pierce sheds Salmons and clears around Davis who drives right and hands the ball of to Pierce on the right wing. Pierce has a half second where he’s got a pull up jumper, but he just doesn’t have the lift to get it up past Salmons, who is closing. He drives toward the key.
Noah seeing Pierce has freed himself slides over to the left block. Rose is watching Pierce but has one arm on Rondo to track him on the baseline.
Pierce gets to the circle beneath the free throw line with Salmons closing from Behind. By this point, Miller has shrugged off Davis and is going to prevent Pierce from getting to the hoop. Pierce sees this and diverts his path.
Pierce believes all the Bulls will focus on stopping his drive. But Noah, as always, is consistently hyper-active, and pretty much runs around with his arms either straight up, or in this case, straight out.
Just as Pierce turns to deliver the ball to a wide open Scalabrine, spotted up in the corner, Noah bursts in front of the pass, which was pretty well telegraphed. Pierce isn’t squared up the basket and turning at the hip for the pass, he’s turned directly towards Scal, and tries to force it through with a chest pass. Noah’s hand bats it away. Pierce grabs at Noah, but the detonator’s already been pushed. Pierce is dead at this point and he doesn’t even know it.
It falls right in front of Noah, and he races to grab it. He gets possession with about 38 seconds left on the clock. Pierce tries to catch up to Noah but A. Noah’s got the stride of gazelle or an antelope or a grasshopper or something and B. Pierce has nothing left. You can see it. He’s trying to get past the exhaustion and not finding it. As Noah reaches the lane hep icks up his dribble and extends for the dunk.
Pierce is laboring behind him, and for some unknown reason, tries to block a guy who’s younger, taller, and faster than him and has a step on him. Pierce extends his arm across Noah’s body, and spreads his fingers, either to try and reach a ball that is nowhere close to his hand or hit Noah’s face, which is rapidly ascending while Pierce is starting to decline in his jump. That’s how high Noah jumped, and how short Pierce’s leap was. When contact is made, the ball is a good six inches above Pierce’s hand and Pierce’s head is below Noah’s shoulder mid-jump.
Noah absorbs the contact and turns into the rim. Noah finishes, the crowd roars, Pierce leans over in exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment.