The only thing he thought about was staying on the ground long enough to gather himself.

It’s all that ran through LeBron James’ mind after being shoved to the floor by Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed.

Just stay down long enough to avoid retaliation, sort of his version of a standing eight count.

Those few seconds proved key in the Miami Heat’s 104-94 victory against the Bulls Friday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at United Center. The Heat now hold a 2-1 lead in the highly-intense, best-of-7 series because of their star remaining cool with the stove at its hottest.

“I haven’t been in a situation like that before,” James said. “My mind, I’m too cool. My mind is in another place to get involved. If I get kicked out and Nazr Mohammed gets kicked out at the same time, they win. It’s that simple. I’m not even going there.”

James and Mohammed were involved in an altercation with 9 minutes, 29 seconds left in the second quarter. While dribbling up the court, James became entangled with Mohammed and threw him to the ground while trying to break free.

Mohammed bounced to his feet, shoved James before teammates from both sides interrupted the skirmish. James, meanwhile, sat on the court a few seconds and waited for Ray Allen to help him up instead of joining fray. Both players drew technical fouls, with Mohammed being ejected.

“It was unnecessary,” James said. “I just basically tried to protect myself, stand my ground. It definitely surprised me that he pushed me like that. I’m here to play basketball. I don’t want to get into all that extracurricular type of things. I mean too much to my team to get involved in stuff like that …”

Mohammed drew cheers from the crowd. James drew energy from the play. Although it took until the fourth quarter, James finally helped close out the Bulls by producing the majority of his 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the fourth quarter.