Heat Use Free Throw Edge to Top Bulls
Miami 85, Chicago 84
CHICAGO, March 18 (Ticker) -- The Chicago Bulls may have been wearing green, but it was the Miami Heat who got lucky.
The Heat held on for an 85-84 victory over the Bulls when Luol Deng's corner jumper popped out of the rim just before the buzzer.
"The turnover total looks kind of shady - I don't think I had 10," Wade joked. "It was just circumstances out there, and they are a good defensive team.
"I never play good in Chicago, so I can't wait to get back to Miami. But I have a long career in front of me, so at some point I will have a good game here in my hometown."
Like Wade, Shaquille O'Neal played much of the fourth quarter with five fouls. Nevertheless, the superstars led Miami to its 14th win in 15 games.
"It was an ugly game with ugly shooting and turnovers," O'Neal said. "I knew it was going to be an ugly game when I saw those three guys (referees Joe DeRosa, Mark Wunderlich and David Guthrie) at the scorer's table. Ugly people call ugly games. I got into foul trouble early and had to play on eggshells after that."
O'Neal's criticism notwithstanding, the Heat attempted 38 free throws, making 29. The Bulls shot 17 free throws, sinking nine.
Miami held a 77-71 lead after a 3-pointer by Chicago native Antoine Walker with 8:08 remaining. The Bulls, wearing green uniforms for St. Patrick's Day, went on a 10-0 run, opening a four-point edge on a 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich with 4:58 to go.
"It was like playing the Chicago Celtics," said Walker, a two-time Celtic. "I like their uniforms. They look good, and they play good in their retro uniforms, too. Our retro uniforms don't work too good for us."
The Heat fought back, taking an 85-84 edge when Gary Payton split a pair of free throws with 2:17 remaining. Remarkably, neither team scored again.
"It was the kind of game I predicted," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I told the team this morning that this is how we would have to play to win."
After Miami's James Posey missed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds to go, Chicago's Ben Gordon dribbled into the frontcourt, where he was double-teamed. He passed to Michael Sweetney near the top of the key, and the big man swooped in for an apparent layup.
Two Miami players swarmed toward Sweetney, who dished to Deng near the left corner. Deng, who paced the Bulls with 19 points, launched a shot from just inside the arc that popped out of the rim, allowing the Heat to escape with the win.
"Ben got the ball, so we went to a high pick-and-roll setup," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Mike made a good play."
"The pass to me was a little low but it was fine," Deng said. "I caught the ball and a good look at the basket. Mike (Sweetney) did a great job realizing everyone was covered and then finding me. I had a good look and it felt good when I shot it. I just didn't convert."
The loss dropped the Bulls to 29-37, three games in the loss column behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We played hard and our defense stepped up," Bulls guard Chris Duhon said. "They only shot about 32 percent (23-of-71) from the field, but they made the shots down the stretch."