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King-Less Heat Outlast Bulls, 93-79

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The Bulls went toe-to-toe with Miami for two and a half quarters before Miami pulled away with a 16-2 run to close out the third.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat took the court less four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, and featured the first start in almost five years by reclamation project Greg Oden. Chris Bosh scored 15 points, including a three-for-six performance from deep, and Dwyane Wade added 13 with three assists. The teams hit their respective lockers rooms tied at 40. Taj Gibson led the Bulls with 10 points as the teams went a combined 33-for-90 from the field.

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Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat | February 23, 2014 | 1st Half Highlights | NBA 2013-2014 Season (via NBAshowtimeHD8)

Third Quarter

Mario Chalmers missed the first field goal attempt of the second half before Miami forced a 24-second violation on the Bulls return trip down the court. Chalmers and Joakim Noah traded off two's to open the scoring. Mike Dunleavy tied it up after a Bulls time out with a long jumper with nine minutes remaining. After a Battier miss on a three, Kirk Hinrich hit an open jumper. Four possessions later, Miami committed a loose-ball foul on Dunleavy, but no points were scored on the opportunity. The Bulls forced Miami into a shot-clock violation of their own with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Bosh hit a 16-foot jumper from the top of the key to tie it at 46. Carlos Boozer then hit a cutting Noah for an easy layup. After Chalmers hit one-of-two from the charity stripe to cut the lead to one, Wade hit a 21-footer from the right side of the key to continue the back-and-forth pattern. After another three fruitless possessions, Boozer hit a pair of free throws and Miami called a time out, down 50-49 with five minutes left in the quarter. Bosh hit his fourth three-pointer of the night from the right side after the time out. Dunleavy, Battier, and DJ Augustin each missed a three pointer followed by a Ray Allen runner which put the good guys up by four. A Chalmers steal and a Birdman assist to Bosh later made it six, as the home crowd came alive. Miami pressured the Bulls into their fourth shot-clock violation of the game the next time down. Chalmers calmly dished an alley pop to the Birdman, stole the next Bulls possession, and dished out another one to Allen to make it a 10-point lead in the blink of an eye with two minutes left. Boozer put a stop to the Heat's run with a drive to the basket the next time down, but Beasley kept the difference in double digits with a runner of his own. The Heat then forced a 24-second violation and the White Stripes came on the loudspeaker. Chalmers hit a cutting Birdman to push the lead to a dozen, and Gibson committed an offensive foul which put Andersen on the line. He made one-of-two and committed an offensive foul the next time down. The quarter ended at 65-52, Miami had outscored the Bulls, 25-12 with the help of a 16-2 run to close out the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Michael Beasley got into the act to open the fourth with a wide open three from the right side, but Gibson threw down a powerful slam off a Dunleavy miss to keep the Bulls down by 14. Beasley committed a foul, followed closely by an Andersen hack on Boozer which led to two freebies. Noah blocked two shots before fouling Wade, who hit both free throws. Beasley made another foul before Miami allowed a jumper by Noah at the shot-clock buzzer. This was followed by a Ray Allen trey and a Wade putback off of his own miss which put Miami up by 19 points with nine minutes remaining. The Bulls hit a pair of threes their next two trips down to trim it to 13, and Bosh missed his three point shot before Noah hit the deck forcing a jump ball in Miami's end. Boozer hit a runner to close out the possession and an 8-0 Bulls run. Wade hit Chalmers in stride the next time down, followed by a Noah left-handed jump shot made it 77-66. Wade and Hinrich each missed a shot, then Miami threw it out of bounds for a turnover. Bosh blocked a Gibson shot, and Chalmers called a time out with five minutes left in regulation. Bosh drew a foul from Noah, and the big guy hit both free throws to put the lead back at 13. Augustin, who was 0-for-10 at the time walked out of bounds with the ball. Bosh sunk a 15-footer on Wade's seventh assist of the night. Miami squeezed another shot-clock violation out of Chicago, and the White Stripes blared from the PA again. Bosh missed a shot, and then Chalmers fouled Augustin, who made both his shots from the line. Chalmers drained a wide-open three point shot. Boozer missed another shot, then Wade made a 20-footer to make it an 18-point lead with just over two and a half minutes remaining to put it out of reach. Gibson made two free throws, and Wade missed a layup on his next time down. Noah then made one-of-two free throws, and the Heat threw it out of bounds immediately for another Bulls possession. Dunleavy missed a layup but got fouled, earning a split from the stripe. Bosh put back an Allen miss, Dunleavy made a three, then Allen milked the clock, missed a three, and watched Bosh put it back to give the Heat a 15-point cushion with a minute left. Toney Douglas then made an appearance, along with Norris Cole. Allen drained another three, Boozer made a two, and Miami ran out the clock for a 93-79 victory. Miami outscored Chicago 28-27 through the fourth quarter.

Bosh led the way with 28 points and 10 boards, Wade had 23 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, Rio had 12 points and nine helpers, and Ray Allen scored 10 with five rebounds. Noah went 20/15 for the Bulls, while Gibson went 20/10.

Miami has now won eight of their last nine games, including six-of-six against better-than-.500 teams. They can enjoy four days of home-cooking before facing the New York Knicks, the Orlando Magic, and the Charlotte Bobcats to close up the home stand. They currently hold their destiny in their own hands, down 1.5 games to the Pacers with two head-to-head matchups left to go. This is the second year in a row they've had a 40-14 record after 54 games. The two years before that, they were 39-15. Thanks for tuning in here at Hot Hot Hoops. For a Bull-tastic take on today's festivities, check out Blog a Bull.