Bulls 93, Heat 97 — FINAL
MIAMI — The Bulls needed Luol Deng more then they ever have when the dquared off against the Heat in Miami on Sunday. Derrick Rose and LeBron James gave the world the performances they thought they’d get but it was the Miami Heat really showing up and proving they’re a basketball team this year rather then a freak show.
LeBron James scored 33 in the winning effort for the Heat as the lack of Luol Deng, although not an excuse for the Bulls, was a major reason for the scales in favor of Miami. Derrick Rose became the first player all season long to go for 30 points on the Heat but it, as was the case in the Conference Finals, wasn’t enough.
“I guarantee you those shots are going down next time.”
-Derrick Rose after the 97-93 loss Sunday
The Bulls reverted back to their ways from a year ago where they start slow and then decide to come around in the fourth quarter. That’s exactly what happened in Miami Sunday. Chicago got off to a sluggish start with Miami leading by 12 at one point. But after that the Bulls switched to a zone defense and consistently kept within four of the Heat.
But LeBron James proved to be the X-factor.
The Bulls needed to win the rebounding game and that’s something they didn’t do. It was clear the lack of depth was an issue Sunday as they got into foul trouble very early and this effected their aggressiveness. They out shot the Heat but they were out rebounded by one and that one rebound could have been the difference between the game being on the line at the end or the Bulls being in control down the stretch.
But the game was on the line and it came down to the two best players in the NBA and they both choked. First, Derrick Rose missed two free throws which would have tied and then given the Bulls their first lead of the game. After his two misses, LeBron James tossed up two bricks but the Bulls lost the rebound and a jump ball was called.
Chicago failed to get the jump ball but the game wasn’t over. After two free throws by the Heat, Carlos Boozer rebounded, then lost the ball but luckily Derrick Rose was there for the recovery. With the game in Rose’s hands again, he missed.
The game was a well fought game until the last two minutes when these two teams usually bring their best. The Bulls should have won and Derrick Rose knows it.
“I guarantee you those shots are going down next time.” he said.
But the Bulls deserve credit. They went down to the wire and nearly beat the Heat without Luol Deng, who was clearly a factor in the game. Had Deng been in the lineup he would have played James closer then he was. Heat fans are quick to dismiss Deng not being in the game but is absence was felt. Deng has been huge in the clutch for the Bulls and his rebounding and defense would have changed the game in the last thirty seconds.
The Bulls have to live and let die for the Bulls as they have eight more games to go on this nine game road trip. Chicago has a quick turnaround tomorrow in Washington and then they head to Philadelphia on Wednesday.