In another hard fought and physical battle, the Miami Heat were able to wrestle Game 3 away from the Chicago Bulls with 104-94 win. The Heat regained home court advantage with the win and needed a huge fourth quarter from LeBron James and a huge double-double from Chris Bosh to get a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
James overcame a sluggish start shooting the basketball but was still able to lead the team down the stretch. He got 12 points in the final frame to finish with 25 points on 6 of 17 shooting. He added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Bosh finally found his stroke and was really aggressive on the boards in aiding Miami to its victory. He had 20 points and a playoff high 19 rebounds. Cole was really effective off the bench getting half of the Heat’s bench points, pouring in 18 points. Wade chipped in 10 points.
"For (Bosh) to have 19 rebounds, and for Norris to come off the bench and defend the way he did against Nate and also contribute offensively," James said. "Those two guys were the reason we won the game."
This game was just as physical as Game 2, but did not have as many technical fouls. With 24 seconds left in the first quarter, Chris Andersen blocked Nate Robinson’s shot, but got whistled for a foul. That’s when Bulls center Joakim Noah decided to be a bully by pushing Andersen away from Robinson causing the referees to step in and assign a technical foul.
Then, about two minutes into the second quarter, James was dribbling down the court when Nazr Mohammed attacked James rather than the basketball, prompting James to push him. After the referees had assessed James with a technical foul, Mohammed followed that up with a push that sent James to the floor. Mohammed’s actions were excessive causing him to be ejected from the game.
"I was just trying to stop the play. I don't take people doing things to me. I know there are kids watching at home, but I can't say I won't do it again," said Mohammed.
The Bulls needed to keep their cool and keep fresh bodies ready to stay in the game. Already without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls could not afford to be missing any more bodies because they were already working with a depleted roster. Even with only eight players registering minutes for Chicago in Game 3, they were able to stay in the game with its signature defensive style.
"We knew that being at home the Bulls were going to be a little more aggressive," Bosh said. "Probably a little bit more passionate and a little bit more intense. Those were storms we were going to have to weather."
The Heat had a tough time getting into an offensive rhythm again in Game 3. They could not pull away from the Bulls despite shooting 50 percent for the second straight game. The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter and the Heat used a 9-2 run to end the second quarter. They were ahead by only two points at halftime despite a slow start from “The Big Three” James and Wade had only 10 points between them at the break. It was Bosh who seemed to find his shooter’s touch getting 10 to keep the Heat content during intermission.
Miami had to step its game up in the second half because the Bulls kept it close in the second half and were threatening to steal another game from the defending champs. Chicago was in contention for the whole game, pestering the Heat by playing their style of basketball. The Bulls got a 73-72 lead in the fourth off of a Jimmy Butler three-point play. The Heat responded on the very next possession with a three-pointer by Bosh to go ahead 75-73. Nate Robinson got a layup to tie the game again. Butler fouled James and that would be put the Heat ahead for good. The Bulls tried to get back in it late with a basket from Carlos Boozer to cut the deficit to 85-83. It would be the final attempt to get back in the game for Chicago.
A better effort in Game 3 was shown by the Bulls, getting more offensive weapons involved. All five Bulls starters scored in double figures led by Boozer’s 21 points. Butler and Robinson both had 17 points apiece. Marco Belinelli finally showed his scoring prowess in Game 3 tallying 16 points. Noah was all over the place, keeping the Bulls energized during his 15 point-11 rebound stat line.
The Heat once again won the battle on the boards by two and because of the lack of depth that Chicago has won the bench war as well, outscoring the Bulls 36-8 in that category. In a grind out game, the Heat could have used more intensity like they showed in Game 2. They were able to turn it on at the right time and were the aggressors in the final quarter which led to them coming out victorious in Game 3.
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