Just like that, Heat are in a bit of a mess
Updated: 2013-05-08 05:51
By Associated Press in Miami (China Daily)
Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson (22) is fouled as he goes to the basket between the Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) and Chris Bosh (1) during Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal in Miami on Monday. James scored two points in the first half, but finished with 24 and eight rebounds. Joe Skipper / Reuters
Robinson's 27 points lead Chicago to 93-86 win over Miami in Game 1
LeBron James took his MVP trophy from Commissioner David Stern moments before tip-off, hoisted it toward the Miami fans and they responded with deafening cheers.
By night's end, they were silent.
Yes, those streak-busters from Chicago did it to Miami again.
Nate Robinson scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler added 21 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, and the Bulls beat Miami 93-86 on Monday night in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series.
So the Heat - who trailed in the East semifinals, East finals and NBA Finals last season - are facing another postseason deficit. And in a season where little has gone wrong, adversity has arrived in a big way.
"It's not going to be pretty, but playoffs are ugly," said Chris Bosh, who was held to nine points on 3 for 10 shooting. "That's what it's about. It's been a little bit too pretty around here, to be honest with you.
"We're in a situation where dudes are not going to be able to sleep and we're going to have to give it our all in Game 2 and figure everything out."
When it comes to facing Miami, the Bulls have plenty figured out.
They snapped Miami's 27-game winning streak in the regular season - the second-longest in NBA history - and now toppled the champs again, this time ending a run of 12 straight Heat victories overall.
"I've played on some tough teams," Robinson said. "But this one, there's something a little different, something special about this group."
A seven-point deficit midway through the fourth wasn't enough to doom the Bulls, who finished the game on a 10-0 run in the final 1:59. And to think, the Bulls weren't anywhere near full strength. Kirk Hinrich was out again with a calf injury. Luol Deng isn't even expected to rejoin the team until Tuesday, after dealing with an illness apparently so severe that a spinal tap - and other tests since - were needed to rule out things like meningitis.
"So proud of my team man, this bed might be good luck after all," Deng wrote on Twitter after the game, with a photo of him in a hospital bed.
Oh, and Derrick Rose remains sidelined, as he's been since April 2012.
No problem. The Heat are 41-3 in their past 44 games - with two of those losses to the Bulls, who are now 3-2 against Miami this season.
"I think when you're facing adversity, you have to be mentally tough," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But this is just one game. We have to play a lot better in our next one."
James struggled through a two-point first half before finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Miami. Dwyane Wade added 14 for the Heat, who had no one else in double figures, finished shooting 40 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 46-32.
"I'm not stunned," James said. "This is what the playoffs is all about. We're going against a really good team."
James has played 885 regular-season and playoff games. He's scored less than two points in a first half only twice, being shut out by Dallas on Oct. 31, 2007 and Dec. 20, 2010. He scored exactly two points on five other occasions before Monday ... Wade dove into the second row of seats to save an errant ball, and grimaced after appearing to hit his sore right knee. "I wish somebody would have grabbed me. That would have been kind of nice, especially at home," Wade said ... The Bulls had 17 second-chance points on only nine offensive rebounds.
(China Daily 05/08/2013 page24)