Despite LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's scoring: Miami Heat lose to Chicago Bulls 96-89
Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel
8:10 AM, Jan 5, 2013
8:36 AM, Jan 5, 2013
During the third quarter of Friday night's 96-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Miami Heat presented a video commemoration of Rony Seikaly's franchise-record 34 rebounds on March 3, 1993 against Washington.
Especially on a night the Heat couldn't reach that total as a team.
"There's not a whole lot to say," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Everybody in both locker rooms understand what the overwhelming key to the game was."
Blitzed 48-28 on the boards, a recurring theme of late, the Heat found themselves unable to recover despite 30 points from LeBron James and 22 from Dwyane Wade.
Not when Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both were going for double-doubles for the Bulls, Boozer closing with 27 points and 12 rebounds, Noah with 13 and 12.
"They were just throwing it up there and playing volleyball against us," Spoelstra said. "It's just something we've got to get better at."
The postgame mood in the locker room was somber.
"It's killing us. It's killing us, plain and simple," center Chris Bosh said of such rebounding deficits. "Everybody knows that.
"We better figure it out."
Chicago entered having been outrebounded in its previous five and eight of its previous 10 games.
This time, though, even in the continuing absence of sidelined guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls stood tallest.
"We knew they were going to be aggressive," Bosh said. "They really got it going."
The Bulls closed with a 20-7 edge on second-chance points and 46-34 scoring advantage in the paint. Chicago closed with 19 offensive rebounds, the Heat with four.
"They had us on our heels the entire night on the backboard," Spoelstra said. "They pounded us."
Unlike recent victories when the Heat overcame such rebounding deficits against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic, the Bulls simply play at too high a level for it to be overcome. The Heat entered 4-0 this season when outrebounded by 15 or more.
"We've got to find a way to fix it," Wade said. "Go get the ball, that's all we can do. Obviously we don't have the answer as a team.
"You've got to do better, as simple as that."
At one stage in the fourth quarter, in fact, 6-foot-2 Norris Cole actually led the Heat in rebounds, with four.
James led the Heat with six rebounds, with the Heat getting only five from Bosh and three from starting power forward Udonis Haslem.
"We didn't do a very good job," forward Shane Battier said. "Our effort wasn't good enough tonight.
"It didn't seem like we made the adjustment."
Or, as Noah said, "I don't think that small ball is going to work against us. We're going to enjoy this."
Not the Heat.
"It's a recurrence," James said of the rebounding deficit. "We got smashed on the glass. Especially against a team like this, you play good defense, the number shows you give a team like this extra possessions and they're going to capitalize on it."
It got a little testy with 10:22 to play in the fourth quarter, when Noah was called for a flagrant foul, for taking James down by the neck.
The Heat trailed 75-66 at the time. James made both free throws, with the Heat retaining possession.
The two free throws put James over the 20-point mark for the 31st time in as many games this season.
The Heat retained possession, with James fouled by Bulls forward Luol Deng, with James again making both foul shots on the four-point possession that drew the Heat within 75-70. A Bulls turnover ensued, as did a James dunk that drew the Heat within 75-72.
Chicago, though, then pushed back to an 83-73 lead with 6:34 to play, on a run capped by a 3-pointer from guard Nate Robinson.
The Heat later closed within 87-81, only to see Wade blow a layup after a Bulls turnover on one possession and Wade called for a charge on the Heat's next possession.
A Ray Allen 3-pointer later drew the Heat within 91-85, with James fouled then fouled after a steal, on what was ruled a clear-path foul on Chicago's Kirk Hinrich with 90 seconds to play.
That sent James to the line, with the Heat also retaining possession.
At 12 of 14 from the line to that point, James made only the first of the two foul shots, to draw the Heat within 91-86. A turnover then gave the ball back to the Bulls.
And that essentially was it, the Heat now having fallen at home to prime Eastern Conference rivals Chicago and New York.
James remained in the lineup after sitting out Thursday's practice with knee pain.
Even with James in the lineup, Spoelstra said he appreciated he had to be cautious.
"He is not super-human," Spoelstra said, "so he does have some knick-knack injuries.
"He's the ultimate competitor. Once he gets warmed up, then he wants to stay out there."
James, who played 41 minutes, entered the night second in career points against the Bulls, with 970, behind only the 1,031 of Boston's Paul Pierce.
"Once I was out there, it felt pretty good," James said. "A couple of times during the game I felt it. But I started moving a little bit more. I started to warm up. But it will probably hurt tomorrow. A little sore right now. It's like a day-to-day thing right now."
For their part, the Bulls had Noah back in the lineup after he missed Wednesday's victory over the Orlando Magic due to flu symptoms.
The Bulls remain without Rose, who is rehabbing from last season's gruesome knee injury. Rose is traveling with the Bulls to acclimate himself to the NBA schedule, but is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
The game was the first of four between the teams.
The game was the second on a three-game homestand for the Heat that concludes Sunday against the Washington Wizards before a two-week, six-game trip opens Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers.