Playoff Box Score: Bulls Make Statement Against Heat
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 16, 2011 3:00PM
It did not matter that the Bulls had the NBA's best record or the top seed in the playoffs, most believed that the Miami Heat were the favorites in the Eastern Conference finals. They believed that their two superstars could dominate a game better than a complete team could work together to beat them. Last night the Bulls proved the power of teamwork as they destroyed the Heat 103-82 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Miami did dominate the first minute of the game, scoring two quick breakaway dunks by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The Bulls settled down after that. Miami held a three point lead after the first quarter. By halftime the two teams were tied at 48 apiece. The lead traded hands for part of the third quarter, until the Bulls erupted on a 10-0 run. From there, they never looked back. A nine point margin through three quarters grew to 21 points by the time the final buzzer sounded. The Bulls held the Heat to just 34 second half points with their stifling defense and wore out Miami's star-laden but shallow roster. The Bulls out-rebounded Miami 45-33 and dominated the offensive boards, grabbing 19 to the Heat's six. Those offensive rebounds accounted for a 31-8 margin in second chance points.
As expected, Derrick Rose led the way for the Bulls with 28 points and six assists. Luol Deng performed incredibly at both ends of the court, scoring 21, grabbing seven rebounds and shutting down James, who scored 15 and shot just 33 percent from the floor. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah each just missed out on double doubles, with Boozer scoring 14 and 9 boards while Noah grabbed 14 rebounds and scored nine.
Making contributions to the blowout well beyond the box score was Taj Gibson, whose two electrifying dunks fired up the crowd and his teammates alike. Late in the second quarter, Gibson posterized Wade to complete a three-on-one breakaway. In the fourth, Gibson's putback dunk of a C.J. Watson miss almost brought down the house. Gibson also contributed to the Bulls stifling defense when not making "SportCenter" highlight reels. Chris Bosh scored a game high 30 for the Heat, while Dywane Wade scored 18.
Proving the can hang with the Heat, the Bulls will look to take a 2-0 lead on Wednesday night. The Bulls will no doubt take the court with confidence that they are contenders in this series. But Miami will no doubt try to make adjustments. Did the Bulls catch Miami by surprise, or are they really the better team? Perhaps we'll have a better idea after game two at the United Center on Wednesday. (7:30p.m TNT / ESPN 1000 AM)