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Archive for Monday, May 23, 2011

Heat take 2-1 series lead

Bosh scores 34 in 96-85 victory

May 23, 2011

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— Chris Bosh missed his first three shots and never worried.

He was in rhythm. He was catching the ball where he wanted. And then midway through the first quarter, he finally saw the ball go through the hoop for the first time.

“That was good enough for me,” Bosh said.

And more than good enough for the Miami Heat — who are now two wins away from the NBA finals.

Bosh made 13 of his final 15 shots on the way to a 34-point night, LeBron James finished with 22 points and 10 assists, and the Heat remained unbeaten at home in the postseason by beating the Chicago Bulls, 96-85, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, and the blowout Game 1 defeat in Chicago a week ago seems far, far away for Miami.

“There is absolutely nothing easy in this series,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s still all about enduring, sustaining and finding a way to grind it out.”

Dwyane Wade added 17 points and nine rebounds for Miami, which is 7-0 at home in the playoffs and handed the team that finished with the NBA’s best record its first losing streak since Feb. 5-7. Udonis Haslem sealed it with a jumper with 1:29 left, putting Miami up 93-84.

Game 4 is Tuesday in Miami.

Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds for Chicago, which had won the first four meetings of the season with Miami. Derrick Rose finished with 20 points, but struggled from the field again, making only 8 of his 19 shots.

The Bulls held James and Wade to a combined 12-of-30 showing from the floor. Against Bosh, they had no answer.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Rose said. “Our will wasn’t there tonight. They still found a way to win.”

Against the NBA’s top field-goal percentage defense this season, Miami shot 51 percent and scored 53 points after halftime. Plus, the Heat were 25 of 29 from the foul line, while Chicago was 16 for 21.

“Rebounding was good,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Challenging their shots wasn’t.”

That was especially true for one critical stretch of the fourth quarter, when Miami turned a four-point game into one where it had full control. A 9-0 spurt, capped by a three-point play from James with 5:07 left, was all it took to give the Heat an 87-74 edge, and the margin never was less than seven again.

So, meet the leading scorer in the East finals.

It’s not Rose, Wade or James. It’s Bosh — who took a bit of heat before the series began, when Boozer was quoted saying that Miami has only two great players, a clear nod toward the Heat having a so-called “Big 3.”

“I always have respect,” Boozer said Sunday night, asked about Bosh’s game. “I never didn’t have it.”

It’s mildly ironic that they’re going head-to-head in this series, given how last summer went.

The Bulls and Boozer agreed on a five-year deal worth around $80 million, those talks wrapping up almost simultaneously with Bosh — who was a Chicago target last summer as well — deciding to join Miami.

On Sunday, Bosh could have taken a victory lap after the two-great-players comment by Boozer. He declined.

“Comments don’t affect me too much,” Bosh said.

Bosh scored 30 points in Game 1, when Miami was embarrassed 103-82. The Heat haven’t lost since, and only trailed for 3:22 in Game 3.

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