Sunday , Apr , 29 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Bulls sweep Heat out of the playoffs

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Luol Deng scored 22 points and pulled down 12
rebounds as the Chicago Bulls topped the Miami Heat, 92-79, to complete a
four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at American
Airlines Arena.

With the loss, Miami became the first defending champion to be swept out of
the first round in a half century.

Ben Gordon had a game-high 24 points for the Bulls, who won their first
playoff series since capturing the NBA title in 1997-98. Ben Wallace added 13
points and 11 rebounds, while Andres Nocioni chipped in with 11 points off the
bench.

“It feels great. It’s a great feeling,” Deng said after the win. “We are a lot
closer as a team. We played together and we always played the same way. It was
good for us to come out and show our maturity as a team.”

Chicago now moves on to face the Detroit Pistons, who disposed of the Orlando
Magic, 4-0, in their opening round series.

Dwyane Wade tallied 24 points and 10 assists for the Heat, who were the first
championship team to be swept in the first-round since the 1957 Philadelphia
Warriors.

“One of the most difficult things you do as a coach is to try and end the
season,” said Miami coach Pat Riley. “It doesn’t make any difference how it
ends especially when you are competitors and you really want to win and you
don’t win. It’s not easy when you don’t fulfill your personal expectations.”

Shaquille O’Neal netted 16 points and seven rebounds but failed to score in
the fourth quarter. Alonzo Mourning had 14 points off the bench on 6-of-6
shooting.

“It was very difficult,” said O’Neal. “We had a good run. I felt the guys
played hard today. We just couldn’t get it. Before you can succeed you must
learn to fail. We won it last year. We let it slip away this year. Now we just
have to live with this and try to regroup.”

The Heat entered the final frame with their season on the line and down by
four points but couldn’t make a move as Chicago clamped down defensively.

Deng came up with a huge steal and went the distance to put the Bulls in
front, 82-77, with just 3:52 to go.

The Heat went cold from there and scored only two points the rest of the way.
Wade’s hook shot made it an 84-79 game with 2:31 on the clock but the Bulls
answered with six consecutive free throws — four by Wallace — over the next
two minutes to put the contest away.

“It was another great effort,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “I felt in
both games down here we really grew up a lot. Nothing seemed to faze us. We
talked before the game that we wanted to look like we knew we were going to
win.”

The Heat came out with a lot of energy and quickly took an early 10-2 edge but
Chicago survived the opening salvo and deadlocked things at 14 after Gordon
deposited a three with 5 1/2 minutes left in the opening frame.

Miami regained its composure from there and Antoine Walker’s long three at the
buzzer game then a 28-23 lead heading to the second quarter.

Things remained tight through the second. P.J. Brown’s jumper evened things at
38 with just under four minutes until intermission. But, Mourning converted a
conventional three-point play and a slam in the final minutes and the Heat
took a 48-44 lead into the locker room.

Miami tried to shake the Bulls in the third and led by as many as eight,
60-52, after Wade knocked down a free throw with a little under six minutes to
go.

The Bulls kept flashing their mettle, however, and used a 13-2 run to see-saw
back in front. Deng capped the flurry with consecutive jumpers to give Chicago
a 65-62 advantage.

Chris Duhon’s triple capped the scoring in the frame with the Bulls up 68-64.

Game Notes

No NBA team has ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven
playoff series…The Heat had won three straight Game 4s in the postseason but
Miami has lost three straight games when facing elimination in the
playoffs…The last time the Heat were swept out of the playoffs was in the
first round of the 2001 playoffs by the Charlotte Hornets, 3-0…O’Neal was
just 3-of-19 from the free throw line in the series’ final two games…James
Posey set a Miami franchise record with 17 defensive rebounds

CHI MIA