Bulls go cold against Heat

Missed shots and wasted opportunities. The Chicago Bulls

couldn’t connect in the fourth quarter and they couldn’t stop a

late surge by LeBron James, either.

And now the Bulls head to Miami with the Eastern Conference

finals tied at 1-1 and the Heat in control of homecourt

advantage.

The Bulls, down by 11 in the third quarter, tied the game on a

basket by Taj Gibson with 7:16 to go and then squandered several

chances to take the lead against the determined Heat. Chicago

managed just one basket the rest of the way, scoring only 10 in the

fourth quarter of an 85-75 loss.

”They were into us, they fought us,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

said. ”Their ball pressure was great, they challenged shots and

when the ball went up, they fought us.”

The Bulls shot only 34 percent and were 4 for 16 in the final 12

minutes. MVP Derrick Rose was just 7-for-23 shooting, missing all

four of his attempts in the fourth, and finishing with 21 points.

He had two points in the final quarter – on free throws.

Nothing came easy for Chicago, which shot a dismal 17 of 42 in

the paint.

”If anything, they closed down the lane, but I missed a lot of

layups. Shots I normally hit just weren’t falling,” Rose said.

”Everybody was just missing shots that are normally just easy for

us.”

Chicago limited the Heat to two points over the first 7 1/2

minutes of the final quarter, keeping James, Dwyane Wade and Chris

Bosh scoreless. But with several chances to take the lead, the

Bulls misfired and finally James found the range.

He hit a 3-pointer and then another jumper and Miami finished it

off, responding with a strong game on the boards after its 21-point

loss in the opener Sunday night.

The Bulls’ defense, so tenacious in Game 1, wasn’t able to stop

James and Wade from getting inside the lane where they could go to

the rim or draw fouls. And they couldn’t keep the Heat from

breaking out during the third quarter when they were sparked by

Udonis Haslem, who gave the Bulls problems inside and out.

”He’s one of those guys – and you really can’t measure him

statistically – he brings a lot of toughness to their team, high

energy guy, terrific defensively,” Thibodeau said.

Chicago pulled down seven offensive rebounds in first seven

minutes and then only two the remainder of the half. And they

missed 14 of their first 18 field goal attempts, setting the tone

for the night.

Chicago’s staggering 31 second-chance points and 19-6 offensive

rebounding edge in Game 1 were also offset by the Heat’s hustle.

Miami still got beat on the offensive glass 17-10 but won the

overall board play 45-41. And this time the Bulls had only 18

second-chance points.

”We played low-energy offense, we played low-energy defense and

the result was not great,” Thibodeau said.

Home court gone, the Bulls now head to Miami where they won in

their only appearance in the regular season.

They’ll have to find their shooting touch. Luol Deng was 5 for

15, Carlos Boozer 3 for 10 and 3-point artist Kyle Korver just 1

for 7. Chicago was 3-for-20 on 3-pointers and missed 10 free

throws.

”We just never got into a flow,” Korver said.

Boozer managed only seven points along with eight rebounds. He

didn’t play in the fourth quarter and Game 3 is a long way off –

Sunday night.

”Trust me, we would rather play right away especially after a

loss like this,” he said.

Deng said the Bulls were still in the game with four minutes to

go and credited his team with fighting back. He said he had no

problem with how the Bulls defended James, who finished with 29 –

14 more than Game 1 – or Wade, who scored 24 after 18 in the

opener.

”Not very often are they going to have off nights,” Deng said.

”I still thought we did a good job on them. They hit some tough

shots that we’re OK with it, as long as they’re not getting too

many easy shots.

”They responded well and took one. Now it’s up to us to go down

there and try to win.”