Playoff Box Score: Bulls Down 3-1 To Heat
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 25, 2011 3:00PM
The Bulls had opportunities to pull out a win against the Miami Heat and even up the series last night. But poor shot selection and ball handling doomed them to overtime, and when the extra basketball was over Miami walked off their home court with a 101-93 victory and a 3-1 advantage over the Bulls in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
As with the first three games, the two teams played a tightly contested game in the first half. While the Bulls opened up a nine point first-quarter lead, the Heat stormed back and regained the lead with a 12-0 run early in the second quarter. Eventually Miami extended their advantage to seven points before two Derrick Rose dunks with fouls helped Chicago regain the lead before halftime. In the second half, the Bulls held the lead through the start of the fourth period when Mike Miller sparked a 9-0 run to help Miami regain the lead. The teams swapped leads for the rest of the period, and with the scored tied at 85 apiece, Derrick Rose twice in the game's final minute missed on ill-advised jumpers over LeBron James. After missing the first one, the Bulls got the ball back when Ronnie Brewer drew an offensive foul on James. While the turnover gave the Bulls the ball back with eight seconds to work with, Rose again attempted to float a jumpshot over the taller James to no avail. Once the game reached overtime, Miami outran the gassed Bulls and led wire-to-wire in the final five minutes as Dwayne Wade finally found his touch and scored six of his 14 in OT.
Once again, the Bulls were hampered by Rose's poor shooting night and their lack of additional scoring options who could create their own shots. Rose shot just eight of 27 from the field, throwing up a number of wild shots and missing on all but one of his nine three point attempts. He also turned over the ball seven times. As a team, the Bulls shot just 40 percent. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each chipped in with 20 points, while Boozer also grabbed 11 rebounds. Joakim Noah added 14 boards. The Bulls bench contributed only 18 points and played sparingly, a rotation decision by Tom Thibodeau that proved costly as the Bulls were the more tired team down the stretch. For Miami, LeBron led the way with 35 points, while Chris Bosh added 22 and Wade 14. Mike Miller was the Miami reserve who stepped up in this game, providing 12 points off the bench.
The series returns to Chicago on Thursday, and while the Bulls might find the win column when back on their home court it's unlikely they can overcome the Heat three straight times. But that's what it would take at this point to move on to the NBA Finals. Had Rose hit one of those late jumpers, we'd be looking at a whole different series come game five. (Thursday 7:30 p.m. TNT / ESPN 1000 AM)