The Miami Heat visited the Chicago Bulls for a sleeveless Sunday matinee, and LeBron James ditched the mask for good. Miami led by 11 points with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls stormed back with their tremendous defense and owned overtime in the 95-88 victory.
The Bulls have beaten Miami in both home games this season, and they proved themselves worthy postseason threats to even the best in the East.
D.J. Augustin had his scoring skills on full display, leading Chicago with 22 points. Joakim Noah had his dad excited in the stands and chants of "M-V-P" descending from the rafters. He tallied 20 points, 12 boards, seven assists and five blocks.
Dwyane Wade put down a game-high 25 points, but he disappeared down the stretch and made only one field goal after halftime. Chris Bosh notched 15 points, while Chris Andersen sizzled off the bench with 13 rebounds and six blocks.
LeBron played 45 minutes and missed 15 of his 23 shots. He still finished up with a solid line of 17 points, nine boards, eight assists and three steals, but the Bulls held him to just four points until late in the third quarter. It was the first time this season James did not get to the free-throw line.
Kirk Hinrich provided some heroics on a game-tying driving layup with 20 ticks left in regulation. Then Jimmy Butler made the play of the game by staying with LeBron from near halfcourt and keeping position all the way into the paint where he blocks James' attempt at a game-winner in the final seconds. That forced overtime where Chicago dominated 9-2. Butler finished on 16 points, 11 boards and four steals.
Miami falls two full games behind the Indiana Pacers in the two-team race for the No. 1 seed. Indy visits the Dallas Mavericks Sunday evening. Next up, the Heat can help themselves and the Bulls by beating the fifth-place Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Chicago moves a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed. Washington is just 1.5 games back, and the Brooklyn Nets are 3.5 games away. The Bulls will need to continue playing their best ball when the San Antonio Spurs come to town on Tuesday night.