The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls were set to clash on National TV on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Both Eastern Conference squads came into Sunday hoping to improve their playoff positioning with a victory. The Heat came into Chicago 1.5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for first place in the Eastern Conference, while the Bulls sat one game back of the Raptors for third in the East.
The Heat were looking to earn their first win in their final game of a three game road trip after losses against San Antonio and Houston. The Bulls were also looking to rebound after a tough 85-77 loss to Memphis on Friday. Despite the loss on Friday the Bulls are winners of 10 of their last 13 games and have gone 20-10 since January 1.
The Heat got the best of the Bulls in their last match up 93-79, despite LeBron James not being in the line up with a broken nose. The last time the Heat played in Chicago, the Bulls came out with a 107-87 victory, as the Bulls out-rebounded the Heat 49-27. In their last 14 trips to Chicago’s Mad House, the Heat have sported a record of 3-11. Both teams came into Sunday’s National TV showcase hungry for a win and whenever the Bulls and Heat clash there always seems to be a playoff atmosphere in the arena.
The first quarter was a defensive battle as both teams hovered around 40 percent shooting in the frame. Carlos Boozer and Kurt Hinrich both contributed seven points in the opening quarter to give the Bulls a 21-19 lead after 12 minutes. Dwyane Wade led the Heat in the first with 10 points, while LeBron James had just two points on 1 of 5 shooting.
In the second quarter Chicago’s offense went into a slump. During a stretch in the 2nd Miami went on a 13-0 run to take the lead from the Bulls. Chicago only made seven field goals and scored 16 points in the 2nd quarter. Both teams combined for only three 3-pointers in the first half.
Despite LeBron only scoring four points on 2-7 shooting, the Heat took a 43-37 lead into the break. Dwyane Wade was the only player on either team who scored in double figures as he led the Heat with 17 points in the half on 6 of 8 shooting.
In the second half Wade continued to score for the Heat, as he had 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting and was 9 of 10 from the free throw line after three quarters. LeBron James scored seven points in the final few minutes of the third quarter to give the Heat a 67-59 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Bulls quickly cut into the Heat’s lead, thanks to an 11-0 run and a pair of 3-pointers by Dj Augustin. This game came down to the final few minutes of the fourth, as a shot by Joakim Noah with 0.9 seconds on the shot clock tied the game at 82 with just under three minutes to play.
After a Miami turnover turned into a slam-dunk by Taj Gibson to give the Bulls an 84-82 lead, LeBron James drove to the rim to tie the game at 84 with 1:10 to go in the fourth. A pair of Dwyane Wade free throws gave him his first points of the fourth quarter and gave Miami an 86-84 lead with 29.2 seconds left to play. A nice drive by Kurt Hinrich tied the game back up at 86 with 20.1 seconds to go. On the final play of the fourth quarter, LeBron James was stripped by Jimmy Butler, as this one went into overtime.
In the extra frame the Bulls jumped out on a quick 5-0 run thanks to jumpers by DJ Augustin and Jimmy Butler to give them a 91-86 lead with 2:25 left to play in OT. Chicago continued to dominate the overtime period as they outscored Miami 9-2 in the extra frame and held on to win the game 95-88.
With his dad in attendance, Joakim Noah came up huge for the Bulls as he ended the game with an overflowing stat line of 20 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks. Dj Augustin also chipped in 22 points for the Bulls and shot 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. Wade finished with a team high 25 points for the Heat, while James had 17 points on 8 of 23 shooting with 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
The Bulls defeated the Heat in their final regular season clash, but look for plenty more nationally broadcast TV action from these two teams in the playoffs this year.
By Eric Kummel