Bulls rally on road to defeat Heat

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- When Nate Robinson dove for a loose ball near the Heat bench with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter, the 5-9, 180-pounder collided with the 6-8, 250-pound LeBron James.
Robinson left the court with a bloodied lip, immediately visiting the locker-room bathroom and staring in disbelief at his face.
Ten stitches later, Robinson returned to score a game-high 27 points -- including 11 in the fourth quarter -- as the Chicago Bulls erased a seven-point deficit in the final quarter in a 93-86 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the second-round Eastern Conference playoff series Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
"You've got to play through it," said Robinson, who played 41 minutes and collected nine assists. "You've got to continue to fight and muster enough energy and fight to continue to play as hard as you can and produce for your teammates. They expect you to get stitched up and come back out there and continue to battle, and that's what I did."
Top-seeded Miami entered the final quarter leading fifth-seeded Chicago 62-58.
LeBron James connected on five of his first six fourth-quarter shots for 15 of his 24 points. He had just two points at halftime a day after receiving his fourth MVP honor in the past five seasons.
The Heat went up 76-69 on his three-point play with 6:30 left, but the Bulls countered with seven straight points, punctuated by Marco Belinelli's bucket from long distance.
The teams exchanged the lead for the next few minutes.
James' two free throws handed Miami an 83-81 advantage. Robinson answered with his own pair of foul shots. James assisted on Chris Bosh's dunk. Chicago missed a bucket, but James made only one of two foul shots. That left the door open for Belinelli's game-tying 3 with just under five minutes left.
After a missed jumper by Bosh, Robinson's jumper put Chicago up 88-86 with 1:18 left. Dwyane Wade couldn't finish on a 3-pointer and Robinson extended the lead to four with a floater with 45 seconds left.
James then missed a shot with 29 seconds remaining.
"I think we gave ourselves a chance to win," said James, who also nabbed eight rebounds and seven assists. "They put themselves in a better position. ... It's tough. We played some good basketball, but they made a couple more shots and grabbed a couple more offensive rebounds."
In the third quarter, Carlos Boozer's dunk with 6:26 remaining handed Chicago a 49-46 lead. Wade scored six of the next nine Heat points as Miami captured an advantage with 4:27 left in the quarter.
Yet when it seemed the Heat would begin to pull away, the Bulls answered back with a bucket of their own.
Robinson scored 13 in the quarter. He made three 3-pointers. Jimmy Butler, who played all 48 minutes for the third straight game, finished with a postseason career-high double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Five Chicago players recorded double-digit points. Joakim Noah recorded his fifth playoff double-double of 2013 with 13 points and 11 rebounds, tying Kevin Garnett.
"I feel like our team -- we believe that what we have is all about being tough," Butler said. "We're always going to be the underdogs and we take pride in that. Everyone can overlook it but we feel we're good enough to hang with a lot of these teams."
In the second quarter, Nazr Mohammed's basket put the Bulls up by a then-game-high eight points before Miami rattled off 10 straight -- nine from the duo of Ray Allen and Wade. The latter's jumper gave the Heat their first lead -- 25-23 -- with 8:13 left in the second.
The Bulls turned the ball over seven times in the quarter, including four of five possessions during a stretch immediately following Mohammed's lay-up.
Though the Heat went up 35-30 on a Wade fastbreak layup, Chicago scored seven of the next nine points to even it at 37 heading into halftime.
Both teams started the game cold, combining to go 8 of 29 from the field before Chicago closed out the quarter sinking its final three shots, taking a 21-15 lead.
The Heat looked like they had a week off between games, missing their first seven shots from the field and falling behind 8-2.
Miami's first bucket came with 6:37 remaining in the quarter on Udonis Haslem's bucket, trimming the deficit to 8-4. Until that point, the Heat had more fouls (three) than points.
Shane Battier, who failed to knock down three open 3-pointers off the bench, finally connected on the fourth. The Bulls and Heat had missed the first nine from downtown.
After shooting 49.7 percent from the field in the first round against Milwaukee, the Heat went just 5 of 19 (.263) in its lowest-scoring opening quarter of the season.
Ten different players scored for the Heat, but just James and Wade (14) tallied double digits.
The loss marked just the fifth of the season for the Heat at home and the first Game 1 home defeat since May 8, 2006.
Chicago entered the series 21-52 in games as the fifth seed against the top seed, having won just one series in 14 chances. But the Bulls are 18-9 in postseason games against he Heat, a team it split a four-game regular-season series with in 2012-13.
"At the end of the day, we're up four in our building going into the fourth and we give up a 35-point fourth quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You're not going to win games doing that."
NOTES: Bulls forward Luol Deng (spinal tap) and guard Kirk Hinrich (calf bruise) remain day-to-day. Neither played on Monday. Coach Tom Thibodeau hopes Deng will fly to Miami on Tuesday. "(It is) more the after effects of the spinal tap," Thibodeau said of Deng. "I spoke to him today and he is feeling a little better." ... Entering Monday, guard Jimmy Butler has played all 48 minutes in two consecutive playoff games, the first Chicago player to do so since at least 1986. ... James received his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern during a pregame ceremony. ... Wade became the 29th player in NBA postseason history to make 1,000 field goals. ... Up next: Miami hosts Chicago in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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