MIAMI, FL - APRIL 19: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots over Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls during a game at American Airlines Arena on April 19, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
In a tightly contested, physical playoff like atmosphere, the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls on Thursday and pulled within 1 game in the loss column of the number 1 seed.
LeBron James led the Heat with a game high 27 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists and Dwyane Wade finished with 18 points and 5 assists.
Both teams were once again short handed with Derrick Rose sidelined with a foot injury and Chris Bosh out with bumps and bruises.
Dexter Pittman drew the start but tallied only 4 points and 7 rebounds and Mario Chalmers had a solid game with 16 points.
C.J. Watson got the start but it was John Lucas who stepped up in Rose's absence, finishing with 16 points and Joakim Noah doubled doubled with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The game got chippy midway through the 2nd quarter, when James Jones got ejected with a flagrant foul 2 on Joakim Noah.
Miami cranked up the defense in the 2nd, holding the Bulls to just 5-18 shooting and went into the half with a 42-40 lead.
The physical play continued in the 3rd quarter, when Dwyane Wade was assessed a flagrant foul 1 for a hard shove on Richard Hamilton. The two would exchange words and continued to play each other tight throughout.
Minutes later LeBron James would set a hard pick on John Lucas, resulting in a brief altercation and whistle of double technicals.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 16 of Miami's 24 points in the 3rd and the Heat would close out the quarter with a 66-61 lead.
The Bulls struggled early in the 4th quarter and Miami went on a 7-0 run to take a 10 point lead off a 3-point basket from Shane Battier with 7 minutes remaining.
- Miami showcased their 15th starting lineup of the season
- LeBron James left the game briefly in the 4th quarter with leg cramps but would return
- Bulls were held to a season low 72 points
- Heat are now a NBA's best 27-4 at home
- Bulls shot just 36%
- Miami out-rebounded Chicago 45-40 and held Bulls to just 5 second chance points
- Bulls held to 20 points in the paint