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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.CHI MIA