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Miami holds on, beats Chicago. Can we just start their playoff series now?

Jan 29, 2012, 7:20 PM EDT

Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks against the Chicago Bulls during their NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

In two ways Sunday’s Heat victory over the Bulls summed up this young season.

First, the Bulls and the Heat are the two best teams in the East. Clear and away. Philadelphia, Atlanta and even Indiana are good, but these two teams are on another level and are destined for an Eastern Conference finals rematch. Which promises to be very entertaining.

Second, it was sloppy when it mattered. Even the referees were blowing plays at the end. Just like so much of this season.

Beyond that, this game was a measuring stick of where the teams are right now, and as we expected they are close. Miami gets the win 97-93, they got a big 35 points on 23 shots from LeBron James and their bench was good. Chicago got 34 points from Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton caused the Heat trouble and scrapped back from double-digit deficits twice. All without Luol Deng.

Don’t try to project this game to the end of the season, because both will be different squads by then. The only thing you can project is that series is going to be very entertaining, very fun.

The other talking point out of this game is how ugly the ending was.

On two consecutive possessions late the Heat tried to isolate LeBron James, but he went Kobe Bryant style dribbling on the perimeter to create space then shooting a long jumper that was contested. One of those came with less than a minute to go and the Bulls, down 4 at the time, ran off the miss and Rose was able to draw the blocking foul and hit the shot to make it an and-one. Suddenly it was a one point game with 49 seconds left.

So the Heat run the clock down but it ends with another LeBron James contested miss, and once again Rose is off and running. Rose pushed it a lot at the end of the game to counter having LeBron on him when the Heat set their defense — he had to give up the ball a lot in standard sets the last few minutes, but in transition he was picked up by others who were backpedaling.

This time the pushing of the ball led to a Udonis Haslem foul and Rose going to the free throw line.

And he missed both. Down one the Bulls had to foul, and LeBron had the ball so they fouled him.

And he missed both.

Then the referees inadvertently blew the whistle on a live ball, so they had to stop play and have a mid-court jump ball. Which LeBron won and the Bulls fouled Mario Chalmers, who proceeded to only make one of two giving the Bulls one last chance.

Rose drove into the lane, the refs (wisely) let contact with Haslem go, and Rose went up with a last-second 10-foot floater to tie, and missed it. Game over (save for a couple Chris Bosh free throws).

Some people are going to jump on LeBron and/or Rose for their end of game play, but to me it just looked like the rest of the season.

LeBron James tweaked his shoulder in the first quarter and iced it during the game, but he returned and didn’t show any signs that this will linger. He was back to himself, and back in the post backing down Ronnie Brewer late in the game.

This game is a playoff preview and it lived up to the hype. And it lived up to the highlights. Rose slashed and showed off his body control, which is as good as the league has ever seen. The Heat were off and running early and that led to some fantastic highlights.

It means nothing about these teams in the playoffs, other than to whet our appetite.

Can we just start the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow?

  1. istillbelieveinblue - Jan 29, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Remember, one of these teams will have to beat Indiana to get there. Just ask Chicago, the Pacers will be a very tough out again this year.

  2. 420hippy - Jan 29, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    i love this rivalry.

    • LilTmac2003 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      YUP!

      As a Bulls fan, this game really stung. True, it really doesn’t mean anything at this point of the season, but it was an entertaining game to say the least.

      Just like Magic Johnson said before the game, Bulls-Heat rivalry have that old school rivalry to it. Both teams have this hatred and want to win the game at all costs.

      Plus I’m not giving any excuses for the Bulls loss. Sure, I could say the officiating was terrible, or Deng wasn’t playing, or Watson wasn’t playing, or Rose is bothered by a toe injury, or Boozer is horrible when it comes to big games, or that inadvertent whistle, or the non-foul call, WHATEVER.

      I’m not even tripping on the free throws that Rose missed. LeBron went and missed two more. The only thing really stung was when Rose missed the floater w/ 3.7 seconds left.

      At the end, Bulls had two chances to win WITH or WITHOUT all these excuses and they came up short.

      That means that next game should be another fun one to watch and hopefully Bulls can get the W.

      • zeedoubleyou - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        The officiating was equally horrible for both sides down the stretch. While the inadvertent whistle will get a lot of attention, Rose could easily have been called for traveling before getting the timeout call to set up the inbounds play or a charge on Haslem in the final seconds before his missed floater. Glad to see the officials swallow their whistles there and let the players decide the outcome.

        All in all, this game was a great matchup between the two clearly elite teams in the East.

  3. Gordon - Jan 29, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    That was one hell of an ending. If Bulls-Heat meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, I think it’s going to be better that the actual Finals. These are 2 really tough teams.

    Go Bulls!

  4. asublimeday - Jan 29, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Congrats on your inadvertent whistle win. Flamers are not the better team.

    • rodgersmvp - Jan 29, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      The inadvertent whistle took two points away from Miami…

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 29, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      Today they were. And will in a 7 game series.

      Deal with it…

      • southbeachtalent - Jan 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        *be

      • trbowman - Jan 29, 2012 at 9:30 PM

        HAHAHAHAHAHA

    • blueintown - Jan 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      Sublime, do intelligent Bulls fans a favor and hop on a different bandwagon. Preferably New Orleans or Charlotte or some other easily forgotten franchise that will slowly fade into oblivion taking you along with it.

    • david8726 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:07 AM

      You realize the Heat would have had the ball if the inadvertent whistle hadn’t happened, right?

  5. dondada10 - Jan 29, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    I think the most important to take from today’s game is that LeBron voliated John Lucas’ life.

  6. dirtybird2020 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    And no deng, at miami, and horrible calls, not something to be proud of if your a miami fan! Deng is the 2nd best bull and hands down the best defensive player on the floor,and then rose had his chance. Bulls still have the better record and will beat them at chicago even without deng as shown today, horrible calls will swing around at chicago! How was rips jump stop any different then lebrons!?!? Another garbage call, flagrant to the face of brewer no T!?! Garbage calls best record in nba deal with that

    • david8726 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:07 AM

      Cry more.

    • edweird0 - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:59 AM

      “Deng is the 2nd best bull and hands down the best defensive player on the floor”

      I think rose would beg to differ. He nominates Lebron as the best defensive player on the floor. Hands down.

  7. asublimeday - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Sublime, do intelligent Bulls fans a favor and hop on a different bandwagon. Preferably New Orleans or Charlotte or some other easily forgotten franchise that will slowly fade into oblivion taking you along with it.
    ————–
    Do humanity a favor: fill the bathtub up and grab a toaster.

    • david8726 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:08 AM

      You mad?

    • blueintown - Jan 30, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      Right. Really, though. You sound exactly like a typical Knicks fan in the 90’s. Bitching about the refs, the other teams fans, talking the biggest game around, all the while getting your ass kicked up and down the floor by the same team over and over and over again. The reason the Knicks never got past the Bulls in the 90’s was because the Bulls were better at basketball. The reason the Bulls have not – and will not – get past the Heat as they are currently constructed is because the Heat are better. But that’s okay. You and John Starks can sit in the corner and sulk together for the next five to ten years.

  8. asublimeday - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    @southbeachtalent

    I guess it’s time to start giving you credit. You’ve been a Flamers fan for a whole year an a half now! Good to see you standing behind your current fair-weather team.

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      Riiight. If that helps you sleep, then by all means. How long have you been a fan of the cows?? since Rose or since Jordan? Probably both, and then took a vacation in between. Pathetic..

      You were the one claiming we were going to get destroyed. We played mediocre and still won.

  9. chargerdillon - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Sucks the 2 best teams in the NBA are in the East. Either way the championship goes through one of these 2 teams.

    At this point I don’t even think a Dwight Howard-infused Lakers team could make a difference in the West.

    Nobody in the West can hang with either one of these teams. As a massive bulls hater, I hope they choke just as greatly as they did last year.

  10. dirtybird2020 - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Id be happy to be the one to throw the toaster in the tub as long as southbeachnotalent is in it! Typical bandwagon fan, its funny i seen the finals banner hung in their stadium today, hahaha theirs lebrons championship hahaha atleast rose can say its his team, miami smells like crap, and hosts bums like southbeachtalent, i guess that makes sense! Who the hell was miami before last year??? Nobodys, didnt have any fans, i remember when their stadium was empty, and the people there then were real fans to stick by a team that sucked, now it has overcharged bandwagons like this queer, and its funny their was a ton of empty seats today and people screaming airball when lebron bricked thats whats up and deal with that!!!!! Chicago has a statue of mike outside so anything that is said can and will be used against you bandwagon lames!!!

    • edweird0 - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:01 AM

      Lol yeah cause Miami didn’t win a championship in the last 5 years. You’re pathetic, it’s one thing to not like them but your blind hatred goes to show how little you actually know about basketball.

    • blueintown - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:07 AM

      Who cares about any of that, dirty? Not making any accusations, but who cares if there are bandwagon fans? You think 90’s Bulls fans were as numerous from ’99 to ’04? Cry about the fans some more while the rest of us actually watch basketball.

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      Do all you obssesive compulsive heat haters copy and paste from previous hate-filled posts? SOS from you douchebags.

      Bandwagon, empty seats, blah, blah, blah,blah…

      Pitiful.

      BTW, MJ hates Chicago.

  11. kilo0986 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Can we just start lebrons 4th quarter now?

  12. asublimeday - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    You realize the Heat would have had the ball if the inadvertent whistle hadn’t happened, right?
    ——–
    Watch the replay, the bulls had the best shot at the rebound but stopped going after it because the whistle had blown. The heat player had the ball after the whistle. When the whistle blew (or didn’t, supposedly), nobody had it.

    • david8726 - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:55 AM

      Trust me, I’ve watched the replay (many times). This is what happened –

      The whistle is blown at almost the exact moment that the ball is leaving Wade’s hand. This is what all five Bulls players were doing at that moment –

      Rose has too many bodies in front of him to ever make a play on the ball. He’s no factor.

      Hamilton is to the left of where Wade is, out of bounds on the baseline, completely away from where the ball was being thrown. He had no shot at the ball no matter what happened.

      Same thing for Taj. He’s under the rim to Wade’s right. He had unsuccessfully gone for the rebound after Bron missed the free throw. He had his head turned away from both Wade and the place where the ball was slapped. His momentum was carrying up in the opposite direction too. He had no chance. No chance.

      Boozer took himself out of the play. After LeBron missed the free throw, he turned his back on the play and immediately began calling time out before any whistle was blown. He seemed to assume the Bulls were going to get the rebound.

      The only Bulls player who had even the slightest possibility of getting the ball after Wade slapped it back in bounds was Brewer. He was under the rim, and was looking at Wade. However, he (like Taj) was moving in the opposite direction of where the ball ultimately headed at the moment that Wade slapped it in bounds (and the whistle blew).

      Clearly, the player who had the best shot at that ball no matter the circumstance was Bosh. The ball was slapped practically right to him, and I just don’t see how he would have failed to come up with it given where all the Bulls players were and what they were doing.

    • edweird0 - Jan 30, 2012 at 4:02 AM

      If you watch the replay, WADE made the ball bounce off a bull ergo HEAT ball.

  13. ferhatiggy - Jan 30, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    This rivalry will continue in next 5 years,it’s amazing!!

  14. ibleedaquaorange - Jan 30, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    Anyone using the Bulls’ injuries as an excuse is laughable. Last year the Bulls won all 3 regular season games vs Miami, and correct me if I’m wrong, but they all came down to final possessions and/or OT, one game with no LeBron (best player in the world for those of you keeping score), one game without Miller, AND ALL THREE WITHOUT HASLEM. In short: stfu and take your medicine like a man.

  15. philtration - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    I love this rivalry too.
    It reminds me of the Bulls-Knicks battles from the 90s.
    One team delivers a knock out punch and then the other comes back with one of their own runs.
    Great players playing great defense instead of worrying about their stats and a real dislike for each other.

    By the way… the officiating in the NBA has been really bad for a while now.
    It does not matter which game you are watching or which team you want to win.
    They blow and the league needs to address it.

  16. gmsingh - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    I think this is a preview of the playoffs, and certainly a reprise of last year’s: the lack of a flagrant foul call against Joel Anthony when he dragged Ronnie Brewer to the ground by the neck and other non-calls against the Heat (Rose getting smacked in the head on a lay up comes to mind) shows that the NBA officials are being paid good money to help the Heat get back to the Finals.

  17. chitownmatt - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    If there is one single thing that fuels this rivalry more than anything else, it was LBJ stating that his reason for going to Miami was, “To win Championships.” The Bulls and Bulls’ fans were very much infuriated by that statement as clearly if he really wanted to win championships, he would have come to Chicago (and he would likely already be working on ring number 2.)
    However, If he had just stated the truth and said that he wanted a mansion on the beach, endless summers and a 40 footer to take his buddies deep sea fishing, I would still have an iota of respect for him.
    The rivalry is about the Bulls proving to LBJ that Chicago would have been the right decision.

    • blueintown - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      C’mon, chi. Do you have a better chance to win a championship playing along D-Rose and (insert second player here. It wouldn’t be Deng, because LBJ has his spot) or Wade and Bosh? Get over it. The Bulls have.

      • chitownmatt - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        blue,
        Last time I checked, it takes 12 players to make a roster; not 3.

        And for the record, YES, I think LBJ would have had a much better chance of winning a ring with D-Rose, Noah, Asik, Gibson, etc…hell, Deng coming off the bench…)
        I don’t know if you noticed, but the Bulls had the best record in the league last year. Are you saying that they could not have done any better with James???

      • heat256 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        Matt,

        It’s entirely possible they would have had a WORSE record with LBJ. The fact that Rose and James need to have the ball in their hands more may have been an issue. Rose made a ton of plays to win them games last year because he had the ball and made the decisions. If it wasn’t in his hands, the outcome may have been different. To me, the signing of Boozer was a real problem for the Bulls. Good player, but he isn’t going to take the team on his back when they are zeroing in on Rose. Until they get that real 2nd consistent scoring threat, they are Rose + a killer defense and that’s it. That gets you to the ECF, but maybe not much further. Hell of a game and I can’t wait to see this series in the ECF again.

      • blueintown - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        chi – If the Bulls had signed James, Deng wouldn’t be on the team. They weren’t going to pay a bench player $12m per year. You said three players does not make a roster (literally true, theoretically bullcrap; see: Miami), so by that logic, two wouldn’t make much of a roster either. You would have Rose, James, and nothing. Additionally, you would lack the cap space to offer a max or near max deal to an additional worthy player. I did notice that the Bulls had the best record in the league last year. Then I noticed that come playoff time, depth doesn’t mean a damn thing.

      • chitownmatt - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        Yeah, Heat256 you are definitely right that the Bulls might have had a worse record with LBJ…. In fact, the Heat sure did!!! hahahahahaha.

  18. dirtybird2020 - Jan 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    How bout since i was born queer, i was bred on bulls baby! I remember when we used to smash on you cowards when i was 8 thats whats up!! Southbeach talent is a bandwagoner and a half where the hell were you 2 years ago, probaly riding lbjs nuts, he comes there all of a sudden your a heat fan!?!? Gtf outta here, you queers were nowhere in sight on these blogs because their was nothing for you to blog about! Now your on here swallowing lbjs load like his mother did delonte wests, whats quality about your city??? Your music sucks,your beaches smell like camel p#%*y in the summertime, your women come cheap! Get miami manning of of a sudden your stadium would get full with bandwagoners like you! Mj made chicago, lbj cant tear down your city cause its already broke down like the women there! Screw miami chicago womps on your b%#*h city thats whats up, you get stomped out over here wearing a heat jersey, i can rock a bulls jersey anywhere in your soft city, this queer was cleavelendtalent 2 years ago! Know your place, if you gonna rep your city rep it right, otherwise dont rep at all! In your case sit the hell diwn! If we wanted to hear you talk id take my hands off your throat!

    • blueintown - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      Moron.

  19. dirtybird2020 - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Thats whats up!

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