Game one belonged to the Chicago Bulls as they came to Miami with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. The Miami Heat were still sleepwalking through the playoffs, like they did in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks. As a result, the Bulls entered game two with a 1-0 lead and a chance to put the defending champions on the ropes.
This was not to be, as the Miami Heat finally awakened and played their best basketball of the playoffs. From the offset of the game, both teams were in a chippy mood. The game started with a hard foul and a technical foul, which set the tone for the rest of the game.
Udonis Haslem sent Robinson flying on the game’s first possession and later on Miami’s first play, Dwyane Wade was fouled hard by Marco Belinelli on a drive to the hoop and took exception to the foul. Wade reacted stupidly by firing the ball at Belinelli and the referees rightfully called a technical foul on Wade. Dwyane felt the contact was excessive, but the refs made the correct assessment in not escalating the call.
The chippiness did not stop then. After Jimmy Butler committed a hard foul on Lebron James, Joakim Noah and James became entangled. Double technical fouls were called on both right away. Replays showed that not much was there between Lebron and Noah, but the fact they do have a history dating back to Lebron’s Cleveland days, as well as the chippiness earlier in the game, led the officials to calm things down early on.
In total, there were 9 technical fouls called in the game and one questionable flagrant foul on Chris Anderson. In 48 minutes of play, a total of 51 personal fouls were called. The referrees wanted to be in total control of the game and steal the spotlight from the players. They clearly did in the early going.
In between all the annoying whistles from the referees, there was actually some basketball played. Lebron James was aggressive from the onset in this game, as he started the game 6-for-6 in the opening quarter. Lebron’s aggressive play catapulted the Miami Heat to a 25-20 lead after one stanza.
The game was kept close until 3:42 left in the second quarter, with the Heat leading 42-38. The Heat rolled off 7 straight points, including a couple of dunks by Wade on some pretty passes from Lebron. Nate Robinson knocked down a three to cut the lead to 49-41, but his thrash talking led to a personal 6-0 run by Norris Cole to give the Heat a 55-41 lead going into the break.
The start of the second half began the same way as the first half ended for the Heat, as they expanded their 13-3 run to a 62-20 run. The Heat lead swelled to 46 points at one point, as James, Wade, and Bosh got extended rest due to the large lead. The Big 3 for Miami combined for just 47 points, 17 assists, and 13 rebounds. Lebron did not record a single point in the second half and did not enter the game at all in the fourth.
The duo of Ray Allen and Norris Cole played larger than life for the Heat in this one. Allen scored 21 points on 5-7 shooting and converted all 10 of his free throw shots. Cole scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including knocking down all four of his three pointers. Mario Chalmers also enjoyed a nice game, scoring 11 points, but he was constantly in foul trouble and picked up a stupid technical foul, as he grabbed Noah’s neck on a screen.
With the game out of hand in the fourth, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson proved to be poor sports, as they each were ejected after picking up two technical fouls. Noah picked up his second technical after yelling at the referees from the bench. Noah was arguing that a Birdman block was actually a goaltending.
Soon after his teammate was sent to the showers, Bulls reserve forward Gibson decided he wanted to vent his frustrations as well. Gibson screamed profanities directed at the Heat and the referees as he picked up two quick technical fouls. Even after being tossed, Gibson kept on going and had to be held back by his bench. He continued to scream profanities that could be easily lip-read by the camera and viewers.
The 37-point victory for the Heat was the largest in their team’s playoff history. The loss was worst in Chicago Bulls playoff history.
Even with the blowout victory, the Heat tied the series at one a piece and have lost home-court advantage. Realistically, the Bulls set out what they accomplished to do, split the series in Miami. The onus is now on the Heat to win one, if not both the games in Chicago to regain control of the series.
Here is a look at some key numbers for Game 2:
Shooting Percentage: Heat (60%) Bulls (36%)
Three Point Shooting: Heat (50%) Bulls (39%)
Rebounds: Heat (41) Bulls (28)
Assists: Heat (29) Bulls (17)
Turnovers: Heat (17) Bulls (17)
Free Throw Shooting: Heat (22-29, 76%) Bulls (15-21, 71%)
*Minutes Played: Lebron (32 mins), Bosh (30 mins), and Wade (28 mins)
*Key stat for the Heat heading into Game 3 and beyond.