April 19, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) before a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Heat Pound Bulls 83-72, Tighten Race for First

Bulls 72, Heat 83 – FINAL




It was an awful night for the Bulls that has massive ramifications. It’s becoming apparent that the Bulls are now running out of gas as they now find themselves in serious danger of being leapfrogged by the Heat in the final week of the NBA season.

It was a hard fought physical game, but the Bulls floundered a chance to close out the Heat. Not the Heat are in a position to do the job instead.(Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE)

Had Chicago won, they would have all but sewed up the Eastern Conference and sealed home court advantage. But they lost on Monday to the Wizards and lost again to the Heat in Thursday which puts tremendous strain on their lead in the East — a lead that was 4 game a week ago that is now 1.5 game lead.

Derrick Rose missing was a factor on Thursday night, but the Bulls offense failed to get anything going all night. This resulted in the Heat’s Big 2 (Chris Bosh sat the night out with an injury) to have a field day not he Bulls.

John Lucas III led the scoring for Chicago with 16 points but LeBron James blew him out of the water scoring 27 with Dwyane Wade adding 18 more. Mario Chalmers daggered the Bulls with his 16 points which, between the amended Big 3, accounted for 61 of the Heat’s final total of 83.

The Heat didn’t muster up anymore offense beyond LeBron, Wade and Chalmers, but they didn’t need to. The big three scorers for the Bulls were Lucas with16, Joakim Noah with 15 and Luol Deng with 11.

But where the Bulls got murdered was an area that the Heat were slacking in: rebounding.

Chicago had only 7 offensive rebounds on 45 misses on Thursday night while the Heat gobbled up a total of 36 defensive rebounds. Joakim Noah, who’s usually monster when it comes to offensive boards, grabbed just one against the Heat.

The lack off a second scorer– you know, the issue that plagued the Bulls against the Heat in last season’s playoffs –was a full frontal problem on Thursday. Rip Hamilton couldn’t get it going, which was the reason they signed him by the way. And Luol Deng wasn’t effective at all either and with the poor game Carlos Boozer turned in it was an all around disaster for Chicago.

Boozer’s night was particularly disappointing as Chris Bosh missed the game with an injury. Chicago was expected to pound the ball down low but they got outscored 36-20 in the paint.

The game became very chippy and physical as it dragged on. James Jones was ejected in the first half for making contact with Joakim Noah’s head. But as the game progressed, that seemed like nothing. There was constant contact and jawing back and forth between guys like Dwyane Wade and Rip Hamilton, with Wade straight up accusing Hamilton in his post game press conference of playing dirty the whole game.

“Every time we play them that’s how it’s going to be,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to have the mental toughness to get through all of that.”

With the loss, the Bulls now need to play perfect to end the season. If they lose just once and the Heat win out their remaining five games, then the Heat will win the No. 1 seed.






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