The Chicago Bulls defeated the Miami Heat on Thursday night in a back-and-forth defensive struggle. Miami was looking for a statement win in the final month of the season, and playing largely without Derrick Rose, the Bulls hit the shots when they needed to prevent that and clinch it in overtime. There were three ties and six lead changes in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls shot the lights out in the extra session to win it 96-86. Chicago hit their first five of six from the floor to start OT, including five straight points by Taj Gibson. Miami did not make a field goal in overtime.
The Bulls bench had nearly as much production as the starters, scoring forty-plus points and grabbing twenty-plus rebounds. Along with Gibson, back-up point guard CJ Watson was key off the bench down the stretch, with Rose nursing his slew of injuries. Unfortunately for Miami, Watson came up with a circus three-pointer as the shot clock expired that tied it up with less than three seconds to play. Video of the shot below:
While the bench came through for Chicago, it was the opposite for Miami as the "Big 3" did all the work. No other player scored more than four points for Erik Spoelstra. LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points, while Chris Bosh added 20 and Dwyane Wade scored 21. But they simply did not have enough, especially against a Chicago team who shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
Miami now returns home for some nice pick-up medicine, facing the lowly Bobcats on Friday night.
Plenty of questions have come the Heat's way in recent weeks, and a signature win in Chicago against the other top team in the Eastern Conference would be a big boost as the playoffs approach. Miami has looked good so far, going on a 12-0 run to take a five-point lead at halftime of a relatively even-matched contest. Derrick Rose, who's dealt with injuries all season, was a game-time decision and did get the nod to start. He has not scored, however, going 0 for 5 from the floor and dishing five assists in 15 minutes.
LeBron James led all scorers with 14 points in the first half, hitting five of ten from the field and setting the pace during Miami's run. Dwyane Wade added only six points but Chris Bosh was solid and had 10 points in support of James. While Rose has struggled, Carlos Boozer has picked up the slack on the interior and scored 13 points for Chicago. Miami will look to shore up the interior defense in the second half, to extend their halftime-lead and get a much-needed statement road win.