The Miami Heat answered the type of question Friday night they rarely have to or want to answer: What happens deep in the playoffs when neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade are at the top of their games? Instead of bottoming out on a night when James was off most of the way and Wade largely passive, the Heat found a way to move to a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 104-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. With James off with his shot on a 6-of-17 night and Wade timid with his attempts in a 10-point effort, the Heat found their way through a game that was rugged early, intense late. With Chris Bosh closing with 20 points and a career-playoff-high 19 rebounds, and with Norris Cole coming off the bench for 18 points, and one huge late 3-pointer, the Heat wore down the Bulls. While off with his shot, James nonetheless filled out the box score, with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Game 4 is Monday at the United Center, before the series returns Wednesday to AmericanAirlines Arena, where the teams split the first two games. With a Bosh layup, the Heat moved to an 85-80 lead early in the fourth quarter, their largest lead to that point. But after a pair of Bosh free throws put the Heat up 90-83 with 3:17 to play, the same seven-point lead the Heat blow late in their Game 1 loss, Bulls guard Marco Belinelli came back with a 3-pointer to make it 90-86. James, though, finally found his range for a 3-pointer that put the Heat up 93-86, only to see Carlos Boozer nail a jumper to draw Chicago within 93-88. But that's when Cole improved to 3 of 3 on 3-pointers for a 96-88 Heat lead with 1:48 to play. Later, after Bulls forward Jimmy Butler made a pair of free throws to draw Chicago within 96-90, James went hard to the rim and converted a 3-point play for a 99-90 Heat lead with 1:23 to play. Dunks by Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah then drew Chicago within 99-94, but it proved too little too late. Boozer led the Bulls with 21 points, with Noah adding 15 points and 11 rebounds, before fouling out with 16.6 seconds to play.
Miami Heat push past Chicago Bulls 104-94, grab 2-1 series lead
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | May 11