Thursday , Jan , 17 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Chicago Bulls Regroup Thanks to the Miami Heat

Happy days are here again? It sure looked that way Wednesday night as the dark cloud hanging over the Bulls after almost a week of controversy and losses cleared with a 126-96 rout of the Miami Heat despite the return of Shaquille O’Neal.The Bulls, in scoring their season high in points and making 57.3 percent of their shots, were reminiscent of the team here last April that sent the defending NBA champions home in a playoff sweep and introduced themselves to the NBA elite.

The ball moved quickly, and repeatedly, Bulls players flashing by Heat statues, laying the ball in and pulling up for open jumpers. Ben Gordon led with 24 points and hit 8 of 10 free throws.Joe Smith, who has been a revelation of late, hit 9 of 10 shots for  23 points.Luol Deng, finding his interior cuts again and quick jumpers, added 21.Andres Nocioni, who seemed doubtful after a harrowing fall Tuesday night in Orlando, had 20 points and could have bitten the head off a live chicken with his feet in boiling water.

Thabo Sefolosha, starting again for Kirk Hinrich because of Hinrich’s back spasms, had 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting. The past two games the supposedly poor shooting guard has made 10 of 13 shots, suggesting his eventual movement to the starting lineup as that long elusive big, defensive guard. Click here for more from the Chicago Tribune.