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Miami moves a game closer to the NBA Finals


PhilBoxing.com




In the waning moments of a closely-fought Game 4, All-Star Derrick Rose had three opportunities to put the Chicago Bulls on his back and tie the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 Tuesday night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.

But in the crucible of these NBA playoffs, Rose, the reigning MVP, flubbed all three chances.

Rose missed 1-of-2 free throws that would have given Chicago a 1-point cushion with 1:09 to play. Some 41 seconds later, his 17-foot jumper clanked harmlessly off the rim. And then with eight ticks to go and the score still tied at 85, Rose -- guarded by 6-foot-9 LeBron James -- heaved a step-back jumper from 19 feet. It hit nothing but air.

Given a new lease on life, Miami took full advantage in overtime and emphatically seized Game 4 with a 101-93 win.

With the Bulls now trailing the best-of-7 series 3-1, it stil isn't quite over yet."We still have games to play. We have to stay positive," a defiant Rose told reporters after the game.

Game 5 of this East final heads back to the United Center Thursday night, but the the Bulls face a daunting challenge.

In the history of the NBA playoffs, only 8 out of 200 teams have come back from a 3-1 series deficit. And even if the Bulls take Game 5, they will play Game 6 in Miami, where the Heat are unbeaten this postseason.

Rose hasn't had too many bad nights in his illustrious 3-year pro career. Unfortunately for him and the Bulls, this was one of those nights, part and parcel of the growing pains that superstars endure on the way to the mountain top.

When it comes to speed, acceleration, and the ability to shift gears at full speed, the 6-foot-3 Rose is arguably the best among the NBA's current crop of point guards. But the length and quickness of the Miami Heat slowed him down.

Under constant pressure, Rose made just 8 of 27 field goals. He finished with 23 points and 6 assists, but he was plagued with 7 turnovers, including the dagger ---- a lost dribble which resulted in a Dwyane Wade layup that gave the Heat a 95-89 cushion in the final minute of overtime.

Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer had 20 points each for Chicago, but the Bulls struggled as a team, making just 35 of 87 shots and 6 of 24 3-pointers. They also went 17-of-22 from the free throw line.

Miami didn't shoot well, either -- converting just 32 of 75 shots and a mere 5-for-13 beyond the arc. But the Heat were super aggressive and were rewarded with 38 free throws, 32 of which they converted. The Heat were outrebounded 42-41 and lost the assists battle, 20-12, but the Bulls had four more turnovers with 19.

LeBron James led Miami with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. He made 11 of 26 shots and was perfect from the free throw line 13-for-13.

Dwyane Wade struggled, 5-for-16 on the field, but he had 6 points in overtime and a total of 14, while Chris Bosh, the final piece of Miami's Big Three, chipped in 22 and 6 rebounds. (Homer D. Sayson)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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