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Nate Robinson comes up big once again in Bulls’ Game 1 over Heat

May 6, 2013, 10:48 PM EDT

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson’s teammates hunched over just so they could celebrate at eye level with the shortest player the NBA playoffs have seen in the last seven years.

Earlier in the night, they would have had to bend even lower.

In the second quarter, Robinson sat on the Heat court with blood dripping from his face. He had just collided with LeBron James, 11 inches taller and 70 pounds heavier, while going for a loose ball. Robinson left the court, but he returned in the second half.

And despite his 5-foot-9 frame, Robinson came up big. Really big.

Robinson had just waved off a Joakim Noah screen, driven right past Ray Allen and gotten all the way to the rim for a crucial basket. A timeout followed, and his teammates ducked their heads to share the joy with Robinson.

The Bulls ended Game 1 against the Heat on a 10-0 run, the final seven points by Robinson, for a 93-86 win.

Marco Belinelli made the first big shot of the decisive run, a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:59 left. Robinson pulled up for a go-ahead jumper with 1:17 left, drove past Allen with 45 seconds left and then made a few free throws down the stretch.

Undoubtedly, Robinson and Belinelli deserve credit for their big shots, but those attempts were created by Chicago’s one decided advantage in this game: rebounding. The Bulls outrebounded the Heat, 46-32.

Joakim Noah offensively rebounded a Belinelli miss to set up the guard’s 3-pointer, and on the Bulls’ three defensive possessions after their final baskets, Chicago held Miami to a single shot. Belinelli grabbed two defensive rebounds, and Noah grabbed the other.

Noah played 39 minutes and grabbed 11 rebounds, using his mobility to remain effective when the Heat went small and still help the Bulls rebound. In theory, Taj Gibson also has that capability, but he had just four rebounds in 25 minutes. Instead, Jimmy Butler (14 rebounds in 48 minutes), Belinelli (seven rebounds in 46 minutes) and Carlos Boozer (seven rebounds in 25 minutes) stepped up on the glass.

One of Chicago’s biggest relative downfalls tonight was its backup guards. With Kirk Hinrich out injured, the Bulls gave Marquise Teague eight minutes and Daequan Cook two, even though those two never stood a chance against Miami’s defense. With Teague on the court, Chicago’s offensive rating was 65.4. With Cook, it was 0.0.

Neither played in the second half, which was a sound adjustment by Tom Thibodeau after neither team scored well during a mostly tight first half.

LeBron had just two points on 1-of-6 shooting at halftime, and the open looks he created for his teammates didn’t fall.

As had happened multiple times in their first-round sweep of the Bucks after back-and-forth play, the Heat made a run in the third quarter.

Dwyane Wade dunked. Chris Bosh blocked a shot. Wade made a layup over Noah by seemingly pausing at the peak of his jump and twisting around Noah as the Bulls center was bound by laws of gravity and retuned to Earth. The Heat defense swarmed the Bulls into a bad shot and a miss. Bosh made a corner 3-pointer from LeBron. Bosh stole a pass. LeBron threw a bullet pass to Wade for another layup.

It was a 9-0 run, and even though no timeout was called, the Miami crowd roared while players on the Heat bench stood. Against Milwaukee, this would have been the decisive stretch.

But the Heat led by six measly points. Fewer than two-and-a-half minutes later, they led by only one.

They can’t make only one burst and expect to beat Chicago, which plays hard all game long. The Heat, whose 27-game win streak ended against the Bulls, know this, but sustaining quality play after such a long layoff is easier said than done.

It’s reasonable to expect Miami will be sharper in Game 2, but the Bulls aren’t backing down, and Robinson is stepping up.

  1. cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Hey Mr Wright I think I remember you being ghost yesterday hypocrite. But great game by chi town. Hopefully heatwill make aadjustments and come out strong game 2. By the way ima LeBron fan. And Knicks fans should worry about there own series ya know

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 7, 2013 at 2:36 AM

      I was here all day, look at the comments bozo. You guys make me nervous with how much you stalk and thumb down every factual comment that I post lmao.

      • gmsingh - May 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        Mr. Wright, I thought you were the “comments bozo.”

  2. money2long - May 7, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    heat lose..was it cuz of lebron’s shoes? will he wear those again ?

    • cantonbound13 - May 7, 2013 at 5:48 AM

      no, LeBron went back to being the chokin one & did nothing at the end of that game.

      • chitownmatt - May 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        He certainly tried, but Buttler and Noah had a little something to say about it and Miami just couldn’t hit enough outside shots to get them to stop harassing LeBron.
        The truth is, the Bulls won that game on the Offensive rebounds alone. I don’t know exactly what the numbers were, but I can’t remember Miami even getting one.

      • cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        No @cantonbound if u remember correctly LeBron went in to the 4th with 9 points and ended with 24… so please explain yourself

      • cantonbound13 - May 7, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        he missed his last 3 shots with the game on the line. What’s more to explain?

      • cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        So what’s your view on carmelo considering he shoots 8 for 30 almost every game not to mention his poor shot selection in crunch time

      • cantonbound13 - May 7, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        I never made a stupid comment, like most heat fans, that Melo is the best ever. As a matter of fact I said I would rather have Durant than Melo. Melo still has a lot to prove, much like LeBron did last year.

      • cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        No my point is you are a Knicks fan so focus on your series that you’re team also is currently losing

  3. cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    Looks u got your pen and pad too right?

  4. cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    That’s cuz I’m always on heat blogs and have no choice to see your contradicting name. But the thing is, you never see me on a knicks blog talking about how bad they are or what LeBron would do to them. That’s because i don’t care about carmelo or anyone on the Knicks. That’s what Knicks fans do because there’s plenty on this blog even though they’re down 0-1 in their own series. Enjoy the 2nd round

  5. canehouse - May 7, 2013 at 5:16 AM

    The playoffs have finally begun for the HEAT!

  6. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 7, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Can we agree that Lebron should wear his regular sneakers the whole game tomorrow night? Please?

    • cantonbound13 - May 7, 2013 at 7:44 AM

      Is that the excuse you’re going with? That’s as weak as Bosh Spice’s game.
      The key to beating the Heat is to keep it close & watch LeBron miss the big shots at the end.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 7, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        Sense of humor dude. Sense of humor

      • chitownmatt - May 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        The key to beating the Heat to use some size to box them out of the paint on the offensive boards.
        …that, and don’t let them get any easy baskets. (ie. hard foul a break away)

      • cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        If you know the formula to stopping the heat then I strongly advise u try out for the Knicks. They need you

      • cantonbound13 - May 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        3-1 in the regular season against the Heat. They only played 1 bad quarter against them. They also blew them out twice. They know what it takes to beat the Heat.

      • cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        Last season Celtics beat the heat in the reg season series but u kno how the playoffs ended right?

  7. Great Caesar's Ghost - May 7, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    It’s time the Heat seriously start thinking about trading Lebron. I think he’s peaked already. Who would have thought this would be a one and done championship team. That’s what it looks like right now. I hope I’m wrong as I’d like them to have a full 82-game season championship with LBJ.

    • miamatt - May 7, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      Overreact much?

      The Heat trailed in 3 out of 4 series last year.

  8. miamatt - May 7, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    Congrats to the Bulls on a game well played.

    Miami will pick it up from here on out.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 7, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      I’m still taking Heat in 5 (but probably 6 now).

  9. heat256 - May 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Hell of a game and effort by the Bulls. They are nowhere near as talented as the Heat but I must say they have more resilience and heart than just about any other team in the league. I cannot say if it was the long layoff or the Heat doing too much coasting, but they got beat. The close score doesn’t really tell the whole story. I expect the Heat to make adjustments in Game 2, and I still have them in 5. All the credit to the Bulls. I don’t use crybaby ref excuses like Knicks fans do. We got beat fair and square.

  10. cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Yall do know its a series best out of seven right?

  11. cwilson6843 - May 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Come on @Caesars ghost who on God’s green earth would trade LeBron?

  12. arthurjlandry - May 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    the euros can play.. Bellinelli had 8 rebounds after 7 in game 7. He also defended well. A lot of people say “white men cant play” but I think the Euros are proving that wrong. They would not have won either game with Hinrich in my opinion as Belinelli is 3 in taller and more of a hinderance

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