King James reigns over thorny Rose
By Homer D. Sayson
20 May 2011
GAME 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago wasn't a pretty sight to see, one in which you'd probably enjoy better with your eyes closed.
The match was slow and plodding, marred by a jamboree of 51 fouls. The plays were largely sloppy, too, no thanks to 25 combined turnovers. And the shooting was abysmal, it was as if the Bulls and Heat players wore blindfolds.
But in the end, the talents and imagination of LeBron James provided the highlights that saved both the dull night and the Miami Heat.
With just 4:27 left in regulation and the scored knotted at 73-all, King James fueled a 12-2 run that spelled Chicago's doom. He swished a 26-foot 3-pointer with a hand on his face. He drilled a 14-footer that followed a pair of Dwyane Wade free throws and he sank two more mid-range jumpshots in traffic.
When the rampage was done, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound James had gathered a total of 29 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. More importantly, he had lifted Miami to a series-tying 85-75 victory.
As good as their defense had become, the Bulls knew they couldn't always contain both James and Wade, who missed 25 shots and was held to only 33 points in Miami's 103-82 Game 1 loss.
This was the punch in the mouth the Bulls pretty much expected in a long and very physical series. The hope is that it won't happen three more times.
MIAMI did have its struggles, converting only 32 of 68 field goals and missing 10 of 13 3-pointers. They went through extended scoring droughts and lost an 11-point margin late in the third quarter. Buth they hung tough, out-rebounded the Bulls, 45-43, and made it close enough before stepping aside as James willingly took them home.
Wade shook off the cobwebs of his forgettable Game 1 performance and bounced back with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Chris Bosh didn't equal his spectacular 30-point explosion in Game 1, but he was solid with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
A pleasant surprise for the Heat, though, was forward Udonis Haslem. who came off the bench to deliver much-needed reinforcement in the form of 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Sidelined for 69 regular seasons games following a November foot surgery, little was expected from Haslem. Barely used, he had previously logged just a scant 7 minutes throughout this postseason. Yet there he was on Game 2 -- dunking on Bulls, grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and setting bone-shattering screens.
"He one of those guys that you really can't measure him statistically," Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau said of the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Haslem.
IN CONTRAST, the Bulls manifested none of Haslem and Miami's spirited play.
When it came to shooting the ball, the Bulls were a horror picture show. They hit just 28-of-82 filed goals. They flubbed 17 of 20 3-pointers. And even when there was nobody guarding them, the Bulls missed 10 of 26 free throws.
MVP Derrick Rose led his team with 21 points and 8 assists. But he had no flow to his game at all, missing 16 of 23 shots as he expended most of his energy madly trying to escape the blanket of perimeter defenders the Heat threw on him. Rose was largely AWOL in the fourth quarter, where he only accounted for a pair of free throws and two airballs.
Luol Deng was the only other Bull who scored in double figures. But he took 15 shots to make 13 points.
And 6-foot-9 power forward Carlos Boozer?
MIA -- missing in action. Again,
In this postseason, Big Foot has had more sightings than Boozer. The $80 million man missed 7 of 10 shots and had a measly 7 points. Boozer and his ineffective 266 pounds both sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter.
"We believe in each other, we believe we're a good team," said a defiant Deng.
The Bulls will need a healthy dose of that collective belief as the series heads to the American Airlines Arena in Miami with the Heat having seized homecourt advantage.
Meanwhile, we wait and watch the Mavericks duel the Thunder Thursday night in Dallas. This, I promise, won't be a clunkfest that Game 2 of the East Finals was. (HDS)
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