Bulls 100, Heat 97

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CHICAGO (AP)—With Shaquille O’Neal sitting and Kirk Hinrich slowing down Dwyane Wade again, the Chicago Bulls beat the defending champs for the third time this season.

Ben Gordon had 34 points and seven assists, and Hinrich scored 26 points in the Bulls’ 100-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.

Reserve Andres Nocioni added 19 points for Chicago, which won its third straight despite losing center Ben Wallace to a left knee sprain with 5:01 remaining. He finished with 15 rebounds. Wallace will have further tests and is listed day-to-day.

O’Neal watched as the Heat lost for the fifth time in six games. He had played in two straight after missing 35 in a row because of knee surgery, including a loss at New York on Friday night. Miami doesn’t want to risk him playing consecutive days.

So Wade had to take on the scoring load once again, but was slowed by Hinrich in the first half. Wade was scoreless in the period and didn’t make his first basket until 4:04 remained in the second.

“I think we are one of the teams that defend him the best in the league,” Gordon said. “Kirk Hinrich, I give him a lot of credit. Whenever Kirk gets beat, which is rarely, guys are there to help him and make the shot difficult.”

Now the Bulls will have to wait on the status of Wallace.

“We just hope he’s going to be all right. I guess the worst case, if he doesn’t play, then everybody else has to step up. Hopefully he will be all right,” Hinrich said.

The Bulls followed an impressive win on Thursday over the Dallas Mavericks and improved to 20-6 at home. But next is a seven-game road-trip, and the Bulls are just 6-13 away from the United Center.

“We now have two quality wins against two very good teams that will likely be playing late in the year,” Gordon said. “Hopefully we can take some of the momentum that we’ve gained into this road trip.”

After giving up a 17-point lead, the Bulls finally pulled away when a jumper by Gordon with 1:58 left broke an 89-all tie and started an 8-2 run. Hinrich made a jumper in the lane and followed with two free throws, putting Chicago up 97-91 with 1:09 left.

Wade led the Heat with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Reserve James Posey added 17 points.

“We were right there. I think we tied it up, but they made the shots they had to,” Wade said.

The Bulls attempted 44 free throws to Miami’s 16.

“But we had a lot of chances,” Wade said. “We’re an attacking team and the Bulls are known more as a shooting team and for them to have the free throws the way they did, it was tough.”

The Heat erased a series of double-digit deficits, eventually tying it with back-to-back baskets from Udonis Haslem and Antoine Walker with 4:47 left.

With Chicago leading 59-57 with 8:37 left in the third quarter, Gordon led the Bulls on a 14-2 run. He hit a 3 to start it and made a nice bounce pass to Luol Deng in transition for a basket. Gordon later found Nocioni for a jumper, putting the Bulls up 73-59.

Chicago jumped out to a 27-13 lead after one quarter. The Bulls led 54-46 at halftime behind 17 points from Gordon and 15 from Nocioni.

Deng finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago. Jason Kapono scored 16 points for Miami and Haslem added 12 points.

Miami knocked Chicago out in six games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season en route to its first NBA championship, but this season the Bulls have dominated the Heat.

Chicago beat Miami 108-66 on Oct. 31, the worst loss for a defending champion on opening night in NBA history. The Bulls also beat the Heat at home on Dec. 27, but Miami played most of the game without Wade. He left in the first quarter after spraining his wrist coming off a screen while being guarded by Hinrich.

Notes

Alonzo Mourning and Wallace both were issued technicals in the first quarter after they exchanged words. Order was quickly restored. … Wallace had 11 first-half rebounds.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Miami
D. Wade D. Wade
8-24,  24 Pts
8 Rebs, 8 Assists
 Chicago
B. Gordon B. Gordon
11-17,  34 Pts
6 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jan 27