In chippy game, Bulls suffer ugly 83-72 loss to Heat
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com April 19, 2012 10:32PM
Updated: May 21, 2012 9:01AM
MIAMI — As if Bulls-Heat games didn’t have enough going for them after 12 highly competitive contests during the past two seasons, bad blood was spilled on the proceedings during their final regular-season matchup.
First it was James Jones and Joakim Noah, then Dwyane Wade and Rip Hamilton. Finally, it was LeBron James threatening the Coyotes Raffi Torres as Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1 by picking on John Lucas III, of all people.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they didn’t respond well to the physical play, following up missed shot after missed shot with turnover after turnover, resulting in a 83-72 loss Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena that prevented them from clinching home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference.
“Every time we play them, that’s the way it’s going to be,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to have the mental toughness to get through all that. You can’t shy away from that stuff.”
With Derrick Rose sitting out his 26th game, the Bulls needed to dominate the boards as forward Chris Bosh and center Ronny Turiaf were out for the Heat.
Instead, they were out-rebounded 45-40, which contributed to a season-low 25 field goals, 72 points and 14-for-51 shooting in the final three quarters.
“The rebounding hurt us because we weren’t able to get out on the floor and get some easy baskets,” Thibodeau said. “The second shots weren’t there like they normally are, either.”
Don’t be surprised if the chippy play spills over into the playoffs.
Jones was called for a flagrant foul and ejected in the second quarter after delivering a forearm to Noah’s throat. In the third period, Wade used his forearm to shove Rip Hamilton to the floor and was called for a flagrant foul and then a double technical when he got in Hamilton’s face as officials were sorting out the mess.
“He knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do,” Hamilton said. “It’s one of those things that I’m not going to give you the edge and he’s going to do the same with me. He knows I’m not going to back down. I know he’s not going to back down. It’s all part of the game.”
James lowered his shoulder and flattened Lucas with a screen that Lucas didn’t see. Despite being nine inches shorter and 85 pounds lighter, Lucas responded by getting in James’ face and got shoved for his trouble, resulting in double technicals being called.
James turned in an MVP-like performance with 27 points, 11 rebound and six assists. Wade added 18 points and five assists while Mario Chalmers had 16.
“It was great for us to have a dress rehearsal closing the regular season going into the postseason next weekend,” James said.
Lucas led the Bulls with 16 points despite 5-of-16 shooting. Joakim Noah had 15 and 10 rebounds while Luol Deng added 11.