Watch CBS News

Hoiberg Says Isaiah Thomas Is Impossible To Guard Because Of Refs; IT Disagrees

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Boston Celtics evened up their series with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night, thanks in large part to Isaiah Thomas being Isaiah Thomas.

Boston's miniature scoring machine led the way in their 104-95 Game 4 victory with 33 points. He scored 10 of those points during an MVP-like stretch in the third quarter after the Bulls grabbed their first lead of the game, leading the charge in a 16-5 Celtics run to put the game away.

It was the kind of performance the Celtics are used to seeing from Thomas, but one that had Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg voicing his displeasure with the officials after the loss.

"Let me say this, Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player. An unbelievable competitor. He's a warrior, everything he's going through right now," started Hoiberg. "He had a hell of a game tonight. But when you're allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he is impossible to guard. He's impossible to guard when you're able to put your hand underneath the ball and take two or three steps and put it back down. It's impossible to guard him in those situations."

Thomas certainly makes great use of a hesitation dribble, a weapon in his arsenal that the Bulls (and most of the league) have had issues stopping. Hoiberg said he's discussed Thomas' dribbling with officials throughout the series, and wishes they'd keep a closer eye on the move.

"It should be called," he said adamantly. "I've said all I'm going to say about it. I'm not going to talk about it anymore."

When Hoiberg's comments were relayed to Thomas at the podium, the Celtics guard greeted them with a smile.

"That's not the reason why I'm an impossible cover," said Thomas, a response that drew laughter from his two young sons sitting next to him during his postgame press conference. "I've been dribbling that way my whole life."

Thomas, who is still mourning the death of his younger sister ahead of last weekend's Game 1, is averaging 25.5 points on 45 percent shooting for Boston this series. He has looked unstoppable at times, especially over the last two games, but praised head coach Brad Stevens and his teammates after Sunday's win.

"Not one man can guard me," he said. "And that's just the confidence I have, but also my coaching staff and my teammates put me in position to be successful. No matter what other teams are doing, Brad figures it out and puts me in the position to be the best player I can be, and my teammates allow me to do that, as well."

Hoiberg's frustration is understandable, as his Bulls had no answer for Thomas in the second half, even as the guard played with four fouls. He's without Rajon Rondo, who quarterbacked Chicago to wins in Game 1 and 2, with the series now tied 2-2 and heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday night. But what he's complaining about is something nearly every guard in the NBA does.

But in the end, the Bulls head coach is trying to get any edge possible with momentum now on Boston's side, and don't be surprised if Thomas gets called for a carry or two when the series resumes on Wednesday.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.