Deng helps Chicago to Game 1 victory
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Luol Deng poured in 33 points and grabbed eight
rebounds to lead Chicago past Miami, 96-91, in the opener of the Eastern
Conference quarterfinals at the United Center.
Ben Gordon recorded a double-double with 24 points and 11 assists for the
Bulls, who are making their third straight postseason appearance and hoping to
advance past the opening round for the first time since 1998 — when they last
won the NBA title. Chicago has suffered back-to-back first-round exits the
past two years, including last season’s defeat to the Heat in six games.
Andres Nocioni was a huge factor off the bench, scoring 17 points and Ben
Wallace grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds in the win.
Dwyane Wade, who missed 23 games with a shoulder injury, posted 21 points and
Antoine Walker had 20 for the defending NBA champion Heat, who captured their
third straight division title this season and are making their fourth
consecutive playoff appearance.
Shaquille O’Neal added 19 points with six rebounds and Udonis Haslem added 11
points in defeat.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled for Tuesday at the United
Trailing by 10, the Heat kept things close and closed the gap to 78-76 on
Walker’s two free throws, ending a 10-2 spurt with 5:17 left in the final
frame. The Bulls responded as Gordon drained one from the line and followed up
with a jumper, while Nocioni hit a three-pointer to pad their lead at 84-76.
Then, with under two minutes to play, Miami got right back in it when Wade
converted a three-point play to cut it to 92-89. Haslem’s layup made it a one-
point contest, but Gordon was fouled on the other end and hit two from the
charity stripe to give Chicago a 94-91 edge with 18.9 seconds left.
Wade had a chance to tie it, but missed a three from the wing with 10.8
seconds remaining, while Nocioni was immediately fouled on the inbounds pass
and iced the game with a pair of free throws.
Both teams finished 43 percent shooting from the field, but the Bulls
converted 35 percent from three-point range compared to just 18 percent by the
Chicago got out to an early 12-4 lead, but Miami fired back with 10 straight
points as part of a 17-4 burst — capped by an Walker three-pointer — for a
five-point edge late in the first quarter. Wallace later capped the frame with
a layup up at the buzzer to bring the Bulls within 28-27.
It stayed close in the second with the Heat holding a slim lead throughout
until Nocioni drilled a trey and hit a layup to put Chicago on top, 47-44,
with 2:18 to play in the first half.
Just as they ended the first quarter, the Bulls went into the locker room with
a 49-46 edge on a buzzer beater. Wade first went up for a layup, but Deng was
there to knock it down on what appeared to be goaltending. No whistle was
blown, however, and Tyrus Thomas grabbed the rebound and hit Thabo Sefolosha
on the other end for the lay-in with 0.4 seconds left.
Chicago took over in the third, scoring 10 of the first 14 points in the frame
on its way to a 66-55 lead on Sefolosha’s triple at the 3:49 mark.
The Bulls then took a 12-point advantage — their largest lead of the game —
on Gordon’s jumper late in the quarter before Walker hit a three for Miami to
make it a 72-62 contest heading into the fourth.
Sefolosha finished with nine points…Chicago outrebounded Miami, 46-33…The
Bulls have won seven of their last nine games.