Un-Bull-ievable! Bulls turn off the Heat, ending streak at 27
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org March 27, 2013 9:51PM
Updated: March 28, 2013 12:28AM
Nazr Mohammed just wanted to keep his teammates honest.
“If there’s a player in here that said it was no big deal ending Miami’s streak, well, they’d be lying,’’ the Bulls veteran big man said Wednesday. “Every team wanted to see this end. It was time.’’
And Mohammed knew that somewhere the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers were smiling.
“I hope so,’’ he said.
Thanks to 28 points from Luol Deng, the Bulls put an end to the Heat’s chase of history, stopping the winning streak at 27 games with a 101-97 victory at the United Center. It was the second-longest streak in NBA history, falling short of the 33 won by those Lakers.
The victory also clinched a playoff spot for the Bulls, who made the postseason for the fifth season in a row. But that was almost lost in the hoopla of derailing the Heat’s bid at history.
“I had everyone come in and put a hand on each other,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was the first time I mentioned the streak. It was a heck of an experience to have together. Its significance will mean much more later in our careers.
“However, it has never been about the streak. We have a bigger goal in mind. Now we have to move on.’’
The streak ended courtesy of a Bulls team that played without Joakim Noah (right foot) and Marco Belinelli (strained abdomen) — and might be without Derrick Rose (left knee) and Rip Hamilton (back) for the rest of the season.
Deng played like an All-Star, and Carlos Boozer (21 points, 17 rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (17 points) stepped up their games. Butler had the highlight of the night in the third quarter, throwing down a one-handed alley-oop from Deng over Chris Bosh.
“I thought I was going to bust a blood vessel as loud as I was yelling,’’ Butler said of his play.
The play of the night belonged to Kirk Hinrich, who ripped an offensive rebound from Bosh and made a tough pass to Taj Gibson for a jumper that put the Bulls up 94-85 with 2:18 left. That seemed to knock the wind out of any comeback by the Heat.
“I was just hanging on for dear life,’’ Hinrich said of the play. “When we’re at our best, we’re aggressive, we’re physical. We just had that edge to us.’’
While the Bulls (39-31) won the game on the scoreboard, they also won it in the physical department, which led to LeBron James throwing an elbow at Boozer, a former teammate in Cleveland. The MVP was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul, but Boozer had no hard feelings.
“That’s just hoops, man. I’m good,’’ Boozer said. “After the game we’re friends, but during the game we’re like enemies. We compete.’’
James did mention that he was basically tackled by Hinrich early in the game and “collared’’ by Gibson minutes later. So the play on Boozer was giving it back.
“It is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant or a technical foul or whatever the case may be,’’ James said.
As for watching his team fall short of history, James said, “We haven’t had a chance to have a moment to know what we just did. Just very fortunate and very humble and blessed to be a part of this team and be part of a streak like that. It was one of the best that this league has ever seen.’’