LeBron James sat on the end of the bench, watching intently and working on his gum while he rested his sore ankle. Chris Bosh limped off, tried to return and then went for X-rays after hurting his ankle in the third quarter.
Down to one star instead of three, the Miami Heat turned to Dwyane Wade and he responded Saturday night. It just wasn’t enough to keep the Heat from their third straight loss because Derrick Rose was just as tough for the Chicago Bulls.
Rose had 34 points to Wade’s 33 and after the two Chicago natives and stars had an old-fashioned shootout in the final 2 minutes, the Bulls prevailed 99-96 when Kyle Korver retrieved a loose ball and hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.
”Both of us do our best to lead our teams. I try to do the same thing. When my team looks down and out, I try to lead them back,” Wade said. ”In the fourth I got my body going and with the guys out there I just tried to win the game. … We were one rebound away from having an opportunity to steal the game.”
Wade had 12 points in the fourth quarter, including three straight 3-pointers to give the Heat the lead.
”You can’t do anything about that when somebody is jumping at a player and he’s fading away and hitting 3s,” Rose said. ”You got to chalk it up. … In the NBA that’s the type of shot you want people to take and he was making them tonight. He’s a tough player.”
Bosh added 17 points, 11 in the third quarter, but hurt his ankle in the closing seconds of the period when he went to the floor during a scramble for the ball. He returned to the game in the fourth but played only briefly before leaving the game as Miami forged through the final period without two of its stars. X-rays were negative.
”I couldn’t push off it. I thought I could at first,” Bosh said. ”As bad as I wanted to play, you have to keep the big picture in mind. I was finally getting a rhythm. I can’t wait to play these guys again.”
Rose had 11 in the final quarter as he and Wade matched shots in a wild finish that resembled a playoff game.
Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago. Eddie House scored 13 for the Heat, who had to rely on its bench.
It was a Rose vs. Wade showdown over the final 2 minutes.
Rose drove for a basket, Wade answered with a 3-pointer and then Rose converted a three-point play after hanging in the air for a jumper around Mario Chalmers to put the Bulls up 94-90.
But Wade hit yet another 3 with 1:07 to go and after a Bulls turnover, Wade connected again from long distance and the Heat had a 96-95 lead with 37 seconds remaining.
Rose missed from inside but after a missed tip by Boozer, Korver came up with the loose ball and sank his 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to put Chicago ahead 98-96.
”At first I thought I had to get back on D, but there was a loose ball and I went after it,” Korver said. ”Everyone else was flying the other way. The ball came to me and I was wide open.”
After Wade nearly lost the ball in the lane, the Heat retrieved it and Chalmers missed a 3-pointer from the key and Chicago’s Ronnie Brewer rebounded with 4.4 seconds to go.
Brewer missed the first and made the second of two free throws before Wade’s jumper was off with just under a second left.
Rose sliced through four defenders for a twisting layup to cap a startling 17-0 run opening the second half that gave the Bulls a 65-53 lead. He also sank back-to-back 3-pointers early in the quarter and fed Keith Bogans for another as the Bulls appeared ready to run away.
Chicago had trailed by five at the half after blowing a 14-point lead as Wade scored 21 first-half points. But during the 17-point outburst, Wade – booed loudly by fans in his hometown when introduced – picked up his third and fourth fouls and suddenly the Heat were without two of their two biggest stars as he joined a gum-chewing James on the bench.
But Bosh brought the Heat back with 11 points as Miami rallied to tie it at 67 late in the period.
James went through some pregame shooting, even a couple of dunks, to test the ankle but then sat out his second straight game.
The Bulls made their pitch last summer to the two-time MVP and also met with Wade, hoping to lure the Chicago native to return home.
With James out of the lineup, the fans let Wade have it during pregame introductions and continued the loud boos every time he touched the ball early in the game.
Notes: To push Rose for the All-Star game, the Bulls put placards with his picture on every seat and left roses on the writer’s work table. He is currently running second among Eastern Conference guards in fan balloting.