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HEAT clobber Bulls 88-65 for commanding 3-1 series lead

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The Chicago Bulls quickly appeared to be out of gas and never presented much of a challenge to the defending champs with the series returning to Miami.

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Jonathan Daniel

With a long three closer to the scorer's table than the three-point line at the third quarter buzzer, Norris Cole essentially iced the game and may have just wrapped up the series as well.

The Chicago Bulls could only keep up with the Miami Heat for so long but quickly fell behind, with an early tipoff time resulting in plenty of empty seats at the United Center and an overall empty feeling of hopelessness and despair crept into the air. Chris Bosh (14 points, 6 rebounds) once again was on track, hitting several shots from the outset and LeBron James (27 points on 9-20 shooting, 8 assists, 7 rebounds in 43 minutes) showed early on he was going to be aggressive with his shot selection.

The series now heads back to Miami on Wednesday night for what could be the closeout game at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

About the only drama came from Dwyane Wade and his questionable health, where he was seen limping about after a difficult turnaround jumper rattled off the rim. After some grimacing and a few minutes on the bench, Wade came back into the game with just a few minutes left in the first half and appeared to be fine, though he passed on taking a shot on one possession. He did bounce back in the third quarter when he capitalized on an easy dunk off a picture-perfect bounce pass from LeBron and then hit a pair of jumpers that helped the Heat turn this game into the blowout it was bound to become.

The Bulls were just absolutely dreadful in the second half, mustering just 9 points as a team in the third quarter. Even wtih rarely used reserve Richard Hamilton knocking down a pair of three-pointers, the Bulls were a pitiful 2-17 from long range, just .118. From any point on the court, the home team were just 19 for 74 in field goal attempts. They won the rebounding battle this time but even though they had just one more turnover than the Heat, they were outhustled to the tune of 19-7 on fast break points. Whether it was primarily a matter of just being gassed or it was the Heat's team defense, the Bulls were held to a franchise-low in point total and shooting percentage.

Aside from LeBron and Bosh, no other Heat player finished with double-digits in points though it was very much a team effort throughout the game and truthfully there wasn't much needed to take the fight out of the Bulls. Indeed, the Bulls this time out couldn't even muster enough energy to start up trouble as had been the case before in the series.