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Bulls beat Heat, put end to Miami's streak at 27

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO - The Miami Heat's quest for history fell short, but it didn't end quietly.

The Chicago Bulls stopped the second-longest win streak in American professional sports history, beating the Heat 101-97 on Wednesday at a raucous United Center.

The Heat streak ended at 27, six short of the NBA record of 33, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. After the loss, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra reflected on a remarkable accomplishment.

"I had everyone come in and put a hand on each other," Spoelstra said. "It was the first time I had mentioned the streak. It was a heck of an experience to have together. Its significance will mean much more to us later in our careers. I asked them all to share the moment with each other."

Playing without center Joakim Noah, guard Marco Belinelli, guard Richard Hamilton and Derrick Rose, the Bulls got 28 points from Luol Deng, while Carlos Boozer compiled 21 points and 17 rebounds.

Boozer came up with the biggest basket for Chicago, fighting off two opponents to grab an offensive rebound, then following it in to make the score 96-89 with 57 seconds remaining.

Nate Robinson put the game out of reach with a drive down the lane and a floater with 30.2 seconds on the clock, while LeBron James hung on the rim after trying to block the shot.

"It didn't matter who they were playing, everyone was following the streak," Deng said. "So it's great. It's a good feeling to say we're the ones who ended their streak before they broke the record."

James led Miami with 32 points, while Chris Bosh scored 21 and Dwyane Wade had 18.

The game was physical throughout. Miami trailed by eight when James was called for a flagrant foul against Boozer, his former Cleveland teammate, with 3:52 remaining.

Boozer set a screen on the wing and James hit him hard with a shoulder to the chest, then flung his arm without making any serious contact.

Boozer hit one of two free throws.

James blocked Kirk Hinrich's driving lay-in and Miami pulled within 91-85 when Bosh drove for a lay-in and completed a 3-point play.

About a minute later, Bosh rebounded a 3-point miss by teammate Ray Allen, but Hinrich ripped the ball out of his grasp, leading to a Taj Gibson baseline jumper that made the score 94-85 with 2:20 left.

"That's what kind of game it is every time we play them," Gibson said. "They were more physical last game they came to Chicago; had us on our heels. This game, we wanted to come out, play a little harder, play a little better."

Allen missed on the Heat's next possession, but James intercepted a long outlet pass and finished a dunk. Following a defensive stop, Allen's baseline drive cut the lead to 94-89 with 1:22 remaining.

After leading by as many as 13 points in the first half, Chicago clung to a 69-68 edge heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulls created some space with a 6-0 run, then added a pair of 3-pointers from Deng and a corner 3-pointer by Jimmy Butler to take an 86-79 lead with 5:13 remaining.

"We were much more competitive in that second half," Spoelstra said. "However, we were in a make or miss situation in the fourth quarter and just couldn't do it. Give them credit, though, they made big plays at the end."

The Bulls got off to a quick start, scoring on their first six possessions to open a 13-2 lead. James got Miami going with a pair of 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the first quarter.

Chicago's lead reached 13 points on several occasions early in the second quarter. The Heat chipped away and trailed 55-46 at halftime.

James opened the third quarter with a pair of fast-break dunks. Miami took its first lead of the night at 59-58 when Shane Battier knocked down a 3-pointer after a pair of Heat offensive rebounds with 4:28 left in the third.

When these teams last met in Chicago on Feb. 21, Miami generated its lowest point total of the winning streak, yet rolled past the Bulls 86-67. The Heat's second-lowest point total during the streak was 97.

At the morning shootaround, James talked about the season-long absence of the injured Rose.

"I love competing against the best and he's one of the best," James said. "The NBA as a whole, as a competitor, you miss him on the floor. Even off days, not being able to watch him out on the floor for the Bulls, it (stinks). But health is No. 1 in our league. We'll see him back soon."

NOTES: Rose made it clear at Wednesday's shootaround that his return from ACL surgery would not happen against Miami. "Just taking my time, and that's about it," he said. "Been the same way for a couple months now." ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Belinelli (abdominal strain) will be ready when Chicago is back in action at Dallas on Saturday. ... Wade returned to the lineup Wednesday after sitting out two games to rest a sore right knee. Without him, the Heat made 28 baskets from 3-point range against the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats. ... Chicago mourned the passing of longtime center Tom Boerwinkle, who died at age 67. He spent 10 seasons with the Bulls, beginning in 1968, and still owns the franchise record for rebounds in a game with 37.
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