Game Notes: Heat at Bulls
Bulls win a LeBron-less battle.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
How big was it?
Upon entering the United Center, every seat in the arena had a placard placed on it encouraging fans to vote for Derrick Rose to be an All-Star next month in Los Angeles, while every courtside seat had a single long-stem rose placed on them.
It was his night, and he would deliver. Big time.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat who have been rolling through the League after some early season struggles, were coming in on a two game losing streak, apparently a victim of “karma.” LeBron James, who sprained his ankle in Miami’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and as a result had to sit out during the Heat’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, tried to test his ankle during pre-game warm ups and really didn’t look good as he had virtually no lift at all.
Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said that James would be a game time decision and it was decided soon after those word were uttered that LeBron wouldn’t be able to go. Sad, because there wasn’t an empty seat in the arena and the United Center had set a new attendance record as 23,000+ filled the arena to watch their home town team try and knock off the team that everybody loves to hate.
In the first quarter, the Bulls looked like they were going to run away with the game as the Heat came out extremely flat. Led by the play of Dwyane Wade who scored 10 points, the rest of the Miami players collectively could only muster up 9 points as the Heat shot 8-23 from the field.
Chicago, notorious for slow starts this season didn’t seem to have that problem. They put up 28 points in the quarter on 12-23 shooting from the field as all 5 starters scored and not only shot the ball well, but rebounded well also, giving them a 9 point lead (28-19) after one.
The second quarter was a different story. The Bulls hot shooting in the first period didn’t carry over into the second and while they cooled off, Miami heated up. No pun intended.
The aforementioned Wade, Eddie House — who prior to the Denver game hadn’t played since December against the Washington Wizards – and Mike Miller all went off in the quarter. DWade looked to attack more than he did in the first quarter which not only got him to the foul line, but also seemed to open up things for Miller and House on the perimeter. Both shot the ball extremely well and were a perfect 5-5 from behind the the 3-point line.
The Bulls shot 9-24 from the field, managing to score just 20 points, while Miami put up 34 points in the quarter on 11-19 shooting and after being down by 9 points to start the period, the Heat went into halftime with a 5 point lead (53-48) on their hosts.
In the third quarter, the momentum seemed to swing back on the side of the Bulls. Derrick Rose became much more aggressive than he had been in the first two quarters and even though he didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well (4-10), his teammates collectively shot 6-11 from the field en route to a 25 point quarter.
Miami scored 17 points in the quarter, mostly on the back of Chris Bosh who had 11 points and was absolutely cooking Carlos Boozer who really seemed helpless and couldn’t do anything to stop him. Bosh was very aggressive but didn’t seem to get much help from his teammates, but Miami would still find themselves down only 3 points (73-70) going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was what every basketball fan likes to see and fans in attendance definitely got their money’s worth as they saw Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade go head-to-head in their own personal duel.
Shot after shot, both Rose and Wade had fans in the United Center on their feet, and for a brief moment, it looked as if Dwyane Wade was going to single handedly knock off his hometown team as he hit three consecutive 3-pointers down the stretch. Two of those 3-point attempts would cut Chicago’s lead down to 2 points while the other actually gave Miami a 1 point lead with 50 seconds left in regulation.
But it was an unlikely hero in Kyle Korver who would ultimately put the game away.
Off a Derrick Rose miss at the basket, and a Carlos Boozer rebound and missed put back attempt, the ball would be batted out to Korver who was actually heading back down the floor on defense. He grabbed the carom, took one dribble and drained a huge 3-pointer from the corner which proved to be the deciding shot as Miami wouldn’t score again, allowing Chicago to escape with a 99-96 victory and giving the Heat their third consecutive road loss.
On his game winner, Korver quipped, “Yeah, you know, sometimes it works out like that. Not often, but every once in a while… You just have to be ready.
“Everyone else was flying back the other way and I knew that I could get [the ball]. It’s been a frustrating month for me in a lot of ways. I just haven’t been able to get a very good rhythm. But if I have an open three and my feet are set, rarely will I pass it up. I was open, we were down, and I felt like it was a good shot.”
Said Dwyane Wade after the game on the loss, “I wanted it. I wanted this one. We did some good things and we gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game.”
And on the play of Derrick Rose, Wade would offer praise on the third year point guard, “Derrick is one of the great players in the game today and probably will be for a long time to come. You don’t see a point guard with the ability that he has. And now he’s added an outside shot to his arsenal. Chicago’s got a good one.”
Rose was equally effusive when speaking about Wade.
“DWade is DWade where he’s going to be tough the whole game… But that’s why I’m in this league. I love competing against the best. He was making hell of shots. Tough shots. It’s really exciting when a game is like that because it makes you bring your best stuff. You just want to do anything you can to win. People were seeing it [as a 1-on-1 matchup] but I was just doing whatever it takes for my team to get the victory.”
If there was a downside to such a great game, it was that Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer both suffered ankle injuries (karma?).
Bosh’s injury came on a loose ball play when Bulls rookie Center, Omer Asik dived and rolled over on his ankle. Bosh would later say that his injury wasn’t that bad and he actually walked out in the shoes that he came to the arena in. Boozer injured his ankle on the Bulls final possession which led to Korver’s game winner and he would unfortunately have to leave the arena in a walking boot.
“When I hit the ground, [the ankle] was already on it side and all my weight came down on top of it. It’s pretty swollen right now, pretty bad. I’ll ice it like crazy and see if I can play [Monday].”