The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls entered the fourth quarter of Game 3 tied, and Miami only had a four-point lead with three minutes to play. But then LeBron James and Norris Cole made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Miami an eight-point lead with 108 seconds to go. After Jimmy Butler made two free throws on the other end, James drove all to the basket for a layup despite getting fouled, icing the game. Miami defeated Chicago 104-94 to regain home-court advantage and take a 2-1 series lead.
James' late-game heroics will probably overshadow the fact that both he and Dwyane Wade looked oddly tentative for much of the night. In fact, Cole and Chris Bosh carried the Heat for extended stretches of this game. Bosh had a very impressive game of 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, 19 rebounds (a playoff career high) and two blocks. Cole added 18 points off the bench, including going 3-for-3 from downtown. Unlike in Game 1 -- when Erik Spoelstra took out Cole midway through the fourth quarter -- the Heat's sophomore point guard played the entire final stanza of play. He deserved that playing time, because he also got to the rim on a couple occasions, including one crucial time he made a layup despite having his jersey slightly ripped.
Wade shot an efficient 5-of-7 from the field and looked good when Miami went to him a few times early in the post to start the second half. But he also seemed a little too antsy to pass the ball at times and committed four turnovers. Wade essentially looked like a role player out there, and didn't get the dunks and layups that he got in Game 2. These two off days before Game 4 may help Wade recover from any nagging injuries and enable him to play more aggressively Monday night.
It should also be noted, however, that James took too many jumpers in this game before scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter. Miami started the game fairly well offensively, but nearly every field goal was a long two. Some of those shots were encouraging -- Haslem made two jumpers to start the game -- but the Heat should take fewer mid-range jumpers in Game 4. Those shots won't always fall.
This game wasn't nearly as chippy as Game 2, but a few plays are nonetheless worthy of mention. Towards the end of the first quarter, Chris Andersen fouled Nate Robinson's layup attempt and fell on top of Robinson after the collision. Andersen did not provoke anyone, but Joakim Noah simply ran up to Andersen and pushed him for seemingly no reason. Noah received a technical foul for the push. Then early in the second quarter, Nazr Mohammed ran up to LeBron James and wrapped him up to prevent a fast-break. James turned and drove his elbow into Mohammed, sending him to the ground. Referee Joey Crawford called a technical on James, who then looked incredulously at Crawford. After getting up, Mohammed shoved James to the ground, earning himself an ejection. Both of these plays will get plenty of scrutiny in the aftermath of the game, but they were both inconsequential to the outcome.
The Heat will try to go up 3-1 Monday at 7 p.m. on TNT.