Hinrich, Bulls blast Heat to take Game 3
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Kirk Hinrich scored 22 points and dished out 11
assists, and Chicago shut down Shaquille O’Neal, as the Bulls beat the Miami
Heat, 109-90, in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Ben Gordon had a team-high 24 points for Chicago, which moved to 8-0 all-time
in the playoffs at home versus Miami. More importantly, the Bulls climbed
within a 2-1 deficit in the best-of-seven set, which will resume Sunday
afternoon at the United Center.
“We know the odds are still long,” Bulls head coach Scott Skiles said. “We
know how difficult it is when you fall behind. We are already thinking about
the next game. If we go down 3-1 and go into their building, the odds become
long again. We need to win the next game to really make it a series.”
Andres Nocioni added 19 points and nine rebounds, while Luol Deng contributed
19 points and eight boards for Chicago.
Dwyane Wade led the way with 26 points for the second-seeded Heat, who lost
their composure with a series of technical fouls late in the fourth
quarter, one when James Posey was ejected for plowing into Hinrich.
O’Neal, who had frustrated the Bulls over the first two games of this series,
could never get on track after picking up his fourth foul early in the third
quarter. He finished with eight points and seven turnovers in under 25 minutes
“It was very frustrating. However, I knew when I saw (official) Bob Delaney
out there it would be trouble,” O’Neal said. “You just can’t make the mistakes
that we did and win in this building.”
After holding a 48-42 lead at the half, the Bulls shot 13-of-18 in the third
quarter, taking advantage of an absent O’Neal, and expanded that margin to
87-71 going into the fourth.
Shaq picked up his fourth foul with 10:16 left in the third. A three-pointer
by Antoine Walker had Miami within 59-56 with 7:31 remaining in the period,
but Hinrich and Gordon responded with consecutive shots beyond the arc. Two
free throws by Hinrich capped the run, as the Bulls scored their eight points
in 48 seconds.
“We’re fortunate that he got into early foul trouble, but I don’t think it was
anything ” Bulls center Mike Sweetney said. “We kind of lucked out on that.
Without Shaq, the paint seems a lot more open. Guards are able to get layups.
It’s a different flow of the game.”
Udonis Haslem, who was suspended for Game 2 after throwing his mouthpiece in
the direction of an official in the series opener, drew Miami within 71-63 on
his two foul shots, but Chicago surged from there and put in the final six
points of the stanza.
Hinrich had 15 points in the third, while Gordon had 13.
With the Bulls in control, a few players lost their composure for the Heat.
Posey shouldered Hinrich to the floor as the Chicago guard dribbled in the
middle of the court with 3:15 remaining. Posey was given a flagrant foul and
ejected. Walker fouled out six seconds later, argued the call and also
received a technical. Haslem was also given a technical for more jawing, and
after three successful free throws, the Bulls were ahead 104-85.
“Maybe something happened at the other end of the court, but I don’t like
that,” Heat head coach Pat Riley said of Posey’s hit. “There has to be dignity
at the end of the game.”
Miami’s only lead came moments just over a minute after the opening tip on
Walker’s layup. The Bulls established a seven-point lead later in the period
at 23-16 following a Nocioni free throw and it was 31-23 after 12 minutes.
The Heat scored the first five points of the second quarter, but a Hinrich
three capped six straight for Chicago and brought the Bulls to a 37-28 lead.
Alonzo Mourning, who hadn’t played in a game since March 22 due to a torn
right calf muscle, returned to the lineup for the Heat and ended with zero
points in eight minutes…Chicago has never lost a playoff series to Miami
(3-0)…Jason Williams had 17 points for Miami, while Haslem had 10 points and
10 boards. Walker had 11 points…Sweetney scored 12 for Chicago, which went
32-of-46 at the foul line. Miami was 21-of-33 at the charity stripe.