Haslem returns with big game as Heat even series with awesome defensive effort

Big 3? How about a Big 4...

The early stages of this game was just an extension of Game 1 with the Bulls shooting poorly but dominating the offensive glass.  Before the opening quarter was half over Chicago had already collected 7 offensive rebounds which led to 6 points and helped them overcome missing their first 9 shots, going from down by 5 to up by 1.  That prompted Jamaal Magloire coming into the game and he made a quick impact, but we've seen that before; we need something that makes a lasting impression. 

Udonis Haslem came into the game late in the first quarter and within 60 seconds had already collected an offensive rebound and drawn a charge.  It wasn't enough to inspire his teammates as Chicago closed the first quarter on a 17-4 run to take a 7-point lead after the 1st quarter.  It wouldn't have been a big a deficit if not for a halfcourt shot that was made by Luol Deng at the buzzer.

Miami did a better job of keeping things close in the 2nd quarter thanks to some amazing quality minutes from Udonis Haslem, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  He showed us all what the Heat have been missing for the last 6 months, something that we will hopefully be getting for the duration of the playoffs.  When he was in the game Chicago had no offensive rebounds but had 9 when he was on the bench. 

Miami hit 51.5% of their shots in the 1st half and held the Bulls to shooting just 37.8% but 9 turnovers by the Heat and 9 offensive boards by Chicago made a difference.  Still, the Heat came back from down by 7 after the 1st quarter to take a 48-46 lead into the halftime break.  You could tell that something clicked for Miami during the 2nd quarter and now we could only hope that they kept it going in the 2nd half. 

A slow start in the 3rd quarter led to some suffocating defense by the Heat, and for the time being you could see the tides turning.  The Bulls matched Miami and kept things close but then late in the quarter the great D turned into a 10-0 run by Miami which included a pair of big stuffs by none other then Udonis, whose help defense and rotations were a thing of beauty.  The Heat were finally getting out in the open court with 12 fast break points in the quarter compared to just 10 in the 1st half. 

Taking a 6-point lead into the 4th quarter, Miami was getting some very solid minutes from the players that they needed to step up, but it was yet to be seen if they would be able to close this one out.  The Bulls certainly made their case to take the game, going on a 17-6 run to tie the game halfway through the 4th.  Miami's offense was all Udonis Haslem; he had the Heat's last four field goals as no other Heat player had scored since Dwyane Wade's layup with 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. 

More distressing is that Haslem had Miami's only 2 points of the 4th quarter and we were almost at the halfway point.  After a couple of blood-induced timeouts we finally got some scoring.  LeBron hit a triple and then after a nice defensive play by Mike Bibby on a driving Luol Deng, James hit another tough shot as the 24-second clock was about to expire to give the Heat a little 5-point advantage.  From that point on Miami's defense was just ridiculous. 

The game was tied at 73 after a Taj Gibson dunk with 7:13 left in the game and from that point on it was all Heat.  They held Chicago to just 1-for-11 from the field through the end of the game and Miami outscored the Bulls 12-2 to take Game 2, tie the series and head back home to South Florida for Game 3 on Sunday night.  LeBron was LeClutch down the stretch, scoring 9 of his 29 points in the final 4:28 of the game. 

GAME NOTES

  • Udonis Haslem played 23 minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing 5 rebounds.  He was 3-of-3 from the charity stripe and played some amazing D.  
  • After combining for 33 points in Game 1, D-Wade and LeBron James put up 53 in Game 2.
  • Wade had a big 1st half, scoring 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 5-of-6 from the foul line.  He finished with 24 points including 3 big free throws down the stretch. 
  • A quiet night for Chris Bosh, scoring 10 and grabbing 8 boards but led the Heat with a +22 rating. 
  • Mike Miller had 7 rebounds in 18 minutes.  I'll take it. 
  • As a team the Heat out-rebounded Chicago 45-41. 
  • The Bulls had 7 offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter and just 10 the rest of the game. 
  • The Bulls started the game 0-for-9 and finished the game 1-for-11.  They shot 34.1% for the game and went just 3-of-20 from downtown.  They were also just 16-of-26 from the charity stripe. 

Following the game Udonis Haslem and Miami owner Micky Arison shared a nice hug behind the Heat bench.  You know that this is a night that Udonis has been looking forward to for a long long time, and now he is finally back.  Game 3 from the AAA isn't until Sunday night so both teams have a few days to get ready for what should be a hell of a match. 

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