LeBron James' broken nose caused him to miss the Miami Heat's home tilt with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, but the Heat still defeated the offensively challenged Bulls, 93-79.
The win gained Miami coach Erik Spoelstra his 300th career win. He commented after the game, via the team's official Twitter account, "I feel extremely fortunate to be working for a first-class organization and coaching a team like this."
It was a combination of good defense from Miami and atrocious offense from Chicago, as the Bulls recorded a whopping seven shot-clock violations. They shot a horrendous 29-of-81 (35.8 percent) from the field, compared to Miami's 37-of-88 (42.1 percent).
The Bulls hung around in the first half due to their defensive energy, and the score was tied at halftime, 40-40. The Heat used a 19-2 run in the third and fourth quarters to surge into a lead that they never relinquished. They outscored Chicago 25-12 in the third.
No LeBron, no problem. The Heat are 7-1 without LeBron since the start of last season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 23, 2014
Bosh, in particular, had a memorable day by compiling a career high in three-pointers made in a game.
Chris Bosh has a new career high of 4 made threes (on a career high 8 attempts).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) February 23, 2014
This game was characterized by defensive grit, and Miami had more of it. Or, maybe Chicago's offense is just that bad.
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls, Point Guard
Kirk Hinrich's game management was effective in the early going, as he distributed the ball and produced a couple of field goals.
His defensive presence was also significant as the game unfolded. He even checked Dwyane Wade at various stages, containing him better than Chicago's other wings. He at least forced Wade to earn his shots and make challenging jumpers away from the rim.
He ended up with 10 points (4-of-10 from the field), six rebounds and three assists. He played his role sufficiently, particularly on defense.
Unfortunately, he was the only Chicago perimeter player who performed adequately.
Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls, Shooting Guard
Tony Snell was thus thrust into a pivotal role against Miami. While he has improved greatly throughout the season, the Bulls desired more from him in this one.
He was yanked by coach Tom Thibodeau early in the third quarter after laboring defensively against both Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers.
Snell's defense has been so casual Thibodeau had to replace him with Augustin early in 2nd half. Still a rookie; Miami's intimidating place— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) February 23, 2014
Offensively, he wasn't much better. He shot 2-of-10 and never really found a groove. He grew passive as the game wore on, hesitant to attack the rim or search for his shot.
Snell's making strides in his rookie campaign, but he looked like a rookie here. Six points in 38 minutes to go along with lackluster defense isn't going to cut it.
Miami's defense and all-around environment did not treat him kindly.
Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls, Small Forward
With limited offensive options, Mike Dunleavy is an offensive focal point for the Bulls. His seven first-quarter points paced Chicago in the opening stage.
Dunleavy became quiet after this, though. His jumper wasn't falling consistently, and his lack of quickness was apparent when he tried putting the ball on the floor. Chalmers swiped it from him on one of these occasions.
He finished 5-of-12 with 13 points, with an irrelevant three coming late in the contest. He also had three turnovers and zero assists.
Dunleavy has been a nice bargain addition for Chicago, but the Bulls could've used some more offensive firepower from him against Miami.
Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Power Forward
Carlos Boozer knocked down a couple of early field goals and also showcased his underrated passing skills with a few dimes.
His game grew stagnant from there. He did score on an aggressive drive to the rim in the second half, but overall, he was a non-factor.
This is further amplified when considering his defensive limitations. The Bulls were at their best defensively against Miami when Boozer was on the bench, namely because Boozer doesn't protect the rim well (and Gibson does).
In games such as this, when Chicago's offense is inefficient, the Bulls need an assertive Boozer generating offense. This wasn't the case against the Heat.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls, Center
Joakim Noah and Greg Oden on the same floor brought back memories of the 2007 national championship game. Noah's Florida Gators took down Oden's Ohio State Buckeyes.
Noah's activity on both ends propelled Chicago to an early lead. His scrappy play and sneaky passing kept the Bulls in the game.
His intense production persisted in the second half, as he clawed his way to 20 total points (7-of-11 shooting), 15 rebounds and four blocks.
The only downside to Noah's performance was Bosh's beastly output. Noah was guarding Bosh, and Bosh's shooting torched Chicago.
Noah was very upset with his team's effort after the game. Couldn't believe they played the way they did against a rival like the Heat.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 23, 2014
Noah's grade should not be overly impacted by this, though. Bosh's open looks were largely a result of Noah helping when Miami's other figures drove the lane, leading to Bosh standing wide open.
Overall, Noah exhibited his All-Star qualities, but the Bulls still need much more than his steady contributions to compete against the best.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls, Sixth Man
Taj Gibson got off to a shaky offensive start, missing numerous shots outside the paint. He then got into a rhythm by playing garbage man and accumulating an array of buckets near the rim. He wound up with 10 second-quarter points.
Furthermore, his defense was instrumental in a Miami second-quarter drought.
He remained active on both ends during the second half, compiling a double-double of 20 points (8-of-18 from the field) and 10 rebounds.
Gibson has been having the best season of his career, and he is looking more and more like a stellar two-way forward.
Bench, Chicago Bulls
Besides Gibson, D.J. Augustin and Nazr Mohammed were the only other Bulls who sniffed the floor off Chicago's bench. Neither registered a field goal, with Augustin going an abysmal 0-of-10.
Augustin has been an offensive spark plug for Chicago, but his shot wasn't dropping in this one. His five assists were the only thing redeemable in his stat line.
Augustin also was exploited defensively, unable to contain Chalmers in pick-and-roll scenarios. Chalmers was creating and distributing with ease.
It simply wasn't a good day for Chicago's bench.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, Point Guard
Mario Chalmers cashed a couple of floaters and also racked up four first-half assists, and he also limited Chicago's point guards from compiling noteworthy production. He was decent on both ends.
He then turned things up a notch in the second half, scoring in crafty ways and also dropping some flashy assists.
Spoelstra used Chalmers for 39 minutes today, which is as big a compliment as the coach will give him.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 23, 2014
He finished with 12 points (5-of-10 from the field), nine assists and two steals. Chalmers was an X-factor in this one, and he was especially a spark plug during Miami's third-quarter surge.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, Shooting Guard
This game grew decidedly ugly in the early second quarter before a handful of buckets by Dwyane Wade got the Heat going. He finished with 11 second-quarter points.
His ability to score in transition was on display, sparking the Heat when their offense desperately needed it.
His productivity continued in the second half, and he concluded the game with eye-opening numbers: 23 points (10-of-22 from the field), 10 rebounds and seven assists.
He looked like the superb D-Wade we are familiar with, dispelling notions that he's only a shell of his former self.
Shane Battier, Miami Heat, Small Forward
Aside from a three-pointer, Shane Battier was silent for most of the first half. His defense, as usual, was sound, but he overall wasn't much of a difference-maker.
The story stayed the same in the second half. He failed to score and ended the game shooting 1-of-5 from the field (all threes).
Battier's value is limited offensively, evidenced in this clash against Chicago. Yet, he's still a trustworthy piece defensively, especially in a defensive bout like this. This is why he doesn't receive too harsh of a grade.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat, Power Forward
Chris Bosh came out firing, setting career highs in three-pointers attempted and made. And this all happened in just the first half.
Chris Bosh has tied career highs with 3 three pointers made and 6 attempted.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) February 23, 2014
He furthered those career highs in the second half, cashing two more treys en route to a 4-of-9 mark from distance.
Bosh exemplified his perimeter-oriented skill set, splashing jumpers and providing quality spacing for Miami's attack. In LeBron's absence, Bosh revealed how reliable he still is as a primary option, doing this against one of the league's best defenses in Chicago.
Greg Oden, Miami Heat, Center
Greg Oden logged six minutes in the first quarter and did contribute an and-1 layup after an offensive rebound. He did very little else before sitting the rest of the first half.
He made himself felt much more convincingly in the third quarter. His presence on the offensive boards provided Miami with extra possessions and even led to an Oden slam after Chalmers dished to him.
Greg Oden: "I just hope I made somewhat of an impact. We won the game, so I would like to say I did."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 24, 2014
He finished with five points and five rebounds in just 13 minutes of action. He looks more than capable of supplying worthwhile minutes when his services are needed.
Ray Allen, Miami Heat, Sixth Man
Ray Allen was a non-factor in 14 minutes of action during the first half. He only notched one field-goal attempt and didn't connect.
Things changed in the second half as he tallied 10 points, including a couple of threes. He made up for an inactive first half with a solid showing in the final two frames.
Bench, Miami Heat
Miami's bench was inept throughout the first half, combining to score a mere two points.
The two points belonged to Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who overall struggled against Joakim Noah and even foolishly launched two three balls, neither of which dropped through the net.
Chris Andersen has now taken 2 corner 3s. Erik Spoelstra is taking antacid.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 23, 2014
Andersen and Michael Beasley both scored in the second half, but Miami's bench remained quiet outside of them. Norris Cole struggled, going 0-of-4 from the field.
What's Up Next?
Chicago travels to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Tuesday, while the Heat have a few days off before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday.