Recap: Miami Heat (56-15) at Chicago Bulls (39-31) — Streak is OVER!


Mar 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) goes to the basket against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat lost to the Bulls 97-101.  It is actually over.  I mean, I knew The Streak would end at some point; I just didn’t realize it would happen tonight (is this what it feels like to be dumped by Emma Watson?).

I would probably be more upset if Emma Watson dumped me, but not that much more upset.

I felt pretty confident going into the game as some of the Bulls fans I knew were basically waving the white flag before the game even started (my favorite excuse: “well you know, it won’t mean anything because we didn’t have Noah or Belinelli or Rose).  These are the same Bulls fans who now have their chests puffed out, like they picked Florida Gulf Coast to win it all make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Even though Chicago was missing Joakim Noan and Marco Belinelli, the Bulls got off to a fast start, taking an 11-2 lead with about nine minutes left in the first quarter.  (P.S. — the phrase “Nazr Mohammed, Starting Center” should be officially outlawed from the English language.)  Boozer was the key for Chicago early, getting an open layup, an offensive rebound, and hitting a tough jumper to make it 9-2.  From the get-go Chicago was beating Miami on the boards, and it only got worse as Haslem picked up his third foul after only 6 minutes of play.

Chicago took a 10 point lead at the end of the first quarter, and finished the first half with a nine point lead.  As expected, Miami stormed back in the third quarter, even taking the lead at one point in the third.  Then, Chicago did what Miami had done so often during their 27-game winning streak — the Bulls made a killer fourth quarter run.  Luol Deng was deadly from three, hitting four threes, two of them coming in that crucial fourth quarter.  And Jimmy Butler had 17 HUGE points for the Bulls…

…including a sick alley-oop

As I wrote in my preview, the outcome of this game would be decided by rebounding.  Coming into the game, Miami was last in the league in rebounding — and they rebounded like it being out-rebounded 31 to 43.  Even worse, Chicago had twice as many offensive rebounds than the Heat, and they capitalized on their second chance points.  Even without Noah, Boozer was a glass-gobbler with 17 rebounds and Deng added 7 of his own.  By comparison, the Heat’s best rebounders were LeBron and Dwayne Wade, who had 7 each.

Chicago’s physical play (at one point in the first half, Kirk Hinrich basically tackled LeBron) disrupted the Heat on both ends of the court, especially the offensive end where The Big Three got no supporting help whatsoever.

While LeBron (32 points), Bosh (21 points), and Wade (18 points) were good and contributed offensively, there was no other Heat player in double figures.  Chicago’s focused on bodying up LeBron, and LeBron’s frustration to the physicality showed in the fourth quarter when he lowered a shoulder into Boozer as Boozer was setting a screen on him.  I don’t know what’s worse, that “flagrant foul” call, or the fact that Nazr Mohammed started at center tonight in the NBA.  Probably the “flagrant foul” call.  Barely.  I mean, Kwame Brown is still playing in the NBA, right? (Just ask any 76ers fan.  I would also suggest running as fast as possible in the opposite direction after pointing this out.)

While The Streak was amazing (it still is amazing) the loss to the Bulls showed Miami’s one achilles heel — their woeful rebounding.  Heat fans can only hope that this loss galvanizes the players, coaching staff, Pat Riley, ANYBODY AT ALL, to teach the Heat players how to rebound (or at least try to get some of Michael’s Secret Stuff).

LeBron and Co., thanks for the great and historic Streak.  You made the NBA regular season a hell of a lot more compelling.  And If you had beaten the Bulls, I firmly believe you would have beaten the Spurs and won at least 33 straight. But thanks for the run anyways, it was an honor to watch you guys in action.

To the Bulls — screw you Chicago. Thanks for ruining history for all of us.  (Wouldn’t you want to have told your kids about win number 34?  Sorry, I’m still kinda bitter.)  I hope you Sam Bowie the hell out of yourselves for the next decade (considering the Bulls basically did that post-Jordan to when they drafted Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose this is not as improbable as you might think).

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