LeBron wakes up, Heat take Game 2
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — So that’s how a champion responds.
After losing Game 1 in a lackluster offensive and defensive effort, the Miami Heat crushed the Chicago Bulls 115-78 in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Bulls did not handle the beating with grace. Referees made sure a physical contest between rivals didn’t get out of control. Nine technical fouls were called, including five in the first half. But Chicago lost control early in the fourth quarter with the game out of control.
The victory was the most lopsided in Heat playoff history and the worst loss in Bulls playoff history.
Bulls center Joakim Noah was ejected after his second technical foul with 10:13 remaining in the game. Bulls forward Taj Gibson objected and was ejected after consecutive technical fouls on the same deadball at 10:13.
The series is tied 1-1, and Game 3 is Friday in Chicago (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
In full attack mode, Heat forward LeBron James, the 2012-13 NBA MVP, established the tone early and helped deliver what the Heat needed: a convincing victory.
James scored 19 points, all in the first half, and also had nine assists, five rebounds and three steals. Five other Heat players reached double figures in points: Ray Allen (21), Norris Cole (18), Dwyane Wade (15), Chris Bosh (13) and Mario Chalmers (11).
For almost two days, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra lamented Miami’s effort and ability to finish plays offensively and defensively.
“The first priority for us will be the effort, the toughness, finishing plays,” Spoelstra said Wednesday morning. “Guys are enthusiastic about getting out there and competing again.”
Miami responded, shooting 60.0% from the field and holding the Bulls to 35.5% shooting.
Thibodeau was unhappy with the defense, which gave up 20 fastbreak points and 56 points in the paint, carving up Chicago’s interior defense. He said the Bulls needed to play better defense in Game 2, and the opposite happened.
In Game 1, James looked for his teammates early. He scored just two points in the first half. In Game 2, he took a different tact. He was aggressive from the start, making all six shots he took, and all of them were … [For more on LeBron James wakes up as Heat take Game 2 vs. Bulls, click here.]