CHICAGO, Feb. 22 (Ticker) --
The Miami Heat nearly pulled off an
impressive victory without Shaquille O'Neal
. Then rookie Ben Gordon
did what he does best - make basket after basket with
time winding down.
Gordon scored 20 of his 29 points late in regulation and in
overtime as the Chicago Bulls rallied for a 105-101 victory over
the Heat, who received quite a scare when O'Neal hobbled off
the court less than two minutes into the contest.
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O'Neal landed awkwardly on Chicago's Othella Harrington
the Bulls' basket just 1:46 into the game and winced in pain
while grabbing his left knee. After a few minutes on the court,
he was escorted to the locker room, but X-rays were negative and
he was diagnosed with a left knee strain.
"I saw him come down on someone and it looked like he twisted
his knee," All-Star Heat guard Dwyane Wade
said. "I was passing
the ball in there. I saw him afterward and know he'll be OK.
He is sore, he looked encouraged, though, even in his pain.
Some of that was because we had just lost the game."
O'Neal, who was averaging 23.1 points and 10.6 rebounds for the
Eastern Conference-leading Heat, did not return and will be
"We're a good team and even with Shaq out, our defense was good
for 45 minutes," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It was just
those last three minutes of overtime when we let it go."
Miami held an 86-77 lead before Gordon nailed a jumper with 5:11
left in regulation to trigger a 15-4 run. He added three more
3-pointers during the burst, including a banked one with 1:07
remaining that pulled Chicago within 90-89, then swished another
with 39 seconds left to give the Bulls a 92-90 edge.
"I ignore everything except my coach and my teammates," Gordon
said of his burst. "I'm just trying to step up my level of
concentration. But I think that every shot is going in. Even
when I shot that one off the side of the backboard, I still had
my follow-through like it went in. I just try to keep
confidence in myself."
"The kid was just fabulous and hit his shots," Miami swingman
said. "On a couple of them, I was all over him. He
just got in one of those zones and took over." After an empty
possession by each team, Miami got the ball back with 3.6
seconds left. Heat guard Damon Jones
shot an airball while
challenged by the 7-foot Tyson Chandler
, but Eddie Jones caught
the rebound and flipped the ball into the hoop just before the
buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
But the basket did not cool off Gordon, who scored the first
eight points of the extra session on a 3-pointer, a runner in
the lane and another shot from the arc.
"That was unbelievable," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich
know Ben has that ability, he's really something. He won the
game for us tonight."
"You guys have asked me why (Gordon) doesn't play more or all
the time," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "It is because he has
not been able to do that. He has five, six or seven minutes of
explosive play but he has to get where he learns to guard
people and be more consistent."
Miami, which had won seven straight games overall and six in a
row over Chicago, pulled within two points twice, including
103-101 on a 3-pointer by Damon Jones with 13 seconds left.
Bulls rookie Chris Duhon
was fouled less than a second later and
only made 1-of-2 free throws, giving the Heat another chance.
But after a timeout, Jones missed a 3-pointer from the right
corner with Chandler in his face. Duhon grabbed the rebound and
split another pair from the line to give the Bulls a four-point
lead, sealing their fourth straight win.
Wade collected 21 points and 11 assists and Jones added 18 for
"Yes, we did have some breakdowns at the end," Wade said.
"Also, they did hit their shots. It was a hard-fought game,
where the difference was them hitting their shots. Gordon was
unbelievable. He hit a lot of tough shots."