Well, we made it through the trade deadline alive and without any major moves, much to the displeasure of Derrick Rose’s brother Reggie, who complained publicly that the Bulls weren’t making an effort to surround his brother with championship caliber players. Rose, who tore his ACL last May, has been practicing with the team, but Thibodeau and Rose continue to insist no return is imminent. The matchup with the Heat magnified Rose's significance to the Bulls as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade roam the court wreaking havoc on defense. Kirk Hinrich missed another game with an elbow injury, leaving Chicago at Miami's mercy without a steady ball handler and play-maker. Despite extremely poor ball security, the Bulls kept the game interesting, but they ultimately fell to their Eastern Conference foes by a score of 86-67.
Nate Robinson led Chicago with 14 points on 5-12 shooting while Boozer added 12 and grabbing a team high 11 boards. LeBron led the Heat with a near triple-double on 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Chicago was the front runner through most of the first half. They slowed the game down and forced Miami to play their gritty defensive style of play. All that changed with the game tied at 28 with seven minutes left in second quarter, and the Heat went on a 10-0 run. Chicago failed to score until the 2:30 mark on a Carlos Boozer layup off a nice pass from Joakim Noah. The Heat run came mostly off James/Bosh pick and rolls. Although, Chicago forced Miami to take mid-range jumpers, one of the most inefficient shots in basketball, the Heat knocked them down shooting 52.8 percent in the first half. LeBron continued his hot streak hitting all five of his shots tallying 11 in the first half. Despite allowing the Heat to shoot north of 50 percent from the field, Chicago’s defense wasn’t terrible forcing Miami to turn the ball over 10 times in the first two quarters.
Nate Robinson led the Bulls’ first half attack, scoring nine and turning the ball over only one time (Chicago had 14 turnovers). Noah added seven with Boozer and Deng scoring four only to find themselves down 45-35 at the break. Chicago's nine first half rebounds kept them in the game.
The second half just felt like a formality. The Bulls could never cut the lead to single digits. Miami’s speed and quickness sped the pace up and Chicago could never find a rhythm. They over-passed, missed multiple bunnies, and violated the shot clock several times.
The Heat seemed to just be on cruise control throughout the second half. LeBron even threw up a left-handed running 3-pointer at the end of the third. It took fans back to they days Larry Bird would get bored and play left-handed or try to make a highlight-reel pass.
The game is what it is. The Bulls looked like a team playing, arguably, the best team in the league without their best player. They have the Thunder coming up within a week, and if Rose is still out it will be an uphill battle.
It never ceases to amaze, how hard Thibs gets these guys to play on a night in night out basis. Despite being down by 20 with no chance of winning, the Bulls still continued to play hard. That is solid coaching.
Next up, Chicago faces the Bobcats in Charlotte Friday night at 6 p.m. EST.
Note to some Bulls fans in attendance at the United Center: Don’t boo an opposing player who gets injured… ever.
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