Recap: Heat Outlast Bulls; Series Tied 1-1
The Miami Heat knot the Eastern Conference Finals 1-1 against the Chicago Bulls behind Udonis Haslem’s strong showing.
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The first quarter of Game 2 looked much like the entirety of Game 1. The Miami Heat appeared sluggish and seemed to struggle with protecting the basketball and getting back in transition. Lebron James helped the Heat regain momentum late in the first quarter, after Haslem provided an offensive rebound, turned to find James cutting down te lane wide open, and James capping the play with a one-handed tomohawk. The Bulls, however, would hold the lead after the first quarter, 26-19, thanks to Luol Deng’s 50-foot three point heave that went in as time expired.
The Heat would battle back and take a two pint lead heading into half-time with a 48-46 lead over the Bulls. The 2nd Quarter was best remember for it’s questionable officiating. Fouls were called early and often on the Bulls to open up the 2nd Quarter, which had the Bulls in the penalty from the 8:45 mark. Both fans and players, for both teams, were left puzzled and sought explanations for the ticky tack foul calls. Teir were 14 fouls called in the quarter, which is not that unusual, except for the fact that nine of those fouls went against the Bulls.
The 3rd quarter saw the scoring remain close, and the intensity of the game pick up. The Bulls would tie the game twice during the 3rd, but could never take the lead. The Heat would hold a 71-65 lead heading into the 4th quarter, thanks in large part to Udonis Haslem scoring nine points in the last five mintues of the quarter.
Derrick Rose lead the charge for the Bulls to start the 4th by getting to the free throw line and setting up his teammates. The Bulls would once again catch up to the Heat and tie the game 73-73, on a Taj Gibson dunk off of a Rose assist with 7:16 left in the quarter. Gibson urged the crowd to make some noise and get but the home team, but that was a close as the Bulls would get for the remainder of the game. The Bulls would only score one more field goal for the rest of the game, and they were held scoreless for the last 2:29 of the game.
Lebron James and Dewayne Wade score the last of the Heat’s 13 point of the game. Wade chipped in 3 free throws, while Lebron dazzled with a deep 3-pointer to break the tie leading to a 76-73 lead, and then put the icing on the cake with a dagger, step back jumper. The Heat overcame the rowdy road crowd and grabbed the 85-75 win.
Lebron closed out the bulls late in the 4th, scoring 10 of his 29 in the closing minutes, but even Lebron had to acknowledge that the difference maker was Udonis Haslem. Haslem suffered a broken foot earlier in the season and missed 69 of the Heat’s regular season games. Haslem had played a total of 7 minutes in this years playoffs coming into Game 2, but he brought energy, toughness, and heart to a Heat team that desperately needed a spark. Haslem played 21 minutes in Game 2, giving the Heat 13 points and 5 rebounds, 3 of those being offensive rebounds.
Lebron and Wade bounced back from their Game 1 struggles. Lebron put up 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Wade added 24 points and grabbed 9 boards. For Chicago, only two players cracked double figures, Derrick Rose with 21 and Luol Deng with 13. The Heat outscored the Bulls 50-34 in the paint, due in large part to the fact that Joakim Noah was plagued by every foul trouble and never really got into a rhythm.
A long layoff will allow both teams time to regroup. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls can regain the 3-point shooting that bolstered their offense in Game 1. It will be equally interesting to see if Udonis Haslem will have the same impact in Game 3 as he did in Game 2. I look for the Heat to protect home court, and I except a normally disinterested fan base in Miami, will back the American Airlines Arena and get behind their team. Game 3 will take place on TNT, Sunday night at 8:30 E.T.