MIAMI, FL - MARCH 06: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls reacts after making a key 3 pointer during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Another close contest against Miami, with yet another victory. It's really getting bizarre how a team with James and Wade can prove to be so inept in close and late situations, but it's at the point where I watch them and expect bricks, and the 1 point lead into that final possession would be enough.
In the final minutes until that point it was actually the miscues of Derrick Rose that almost gave the Heat a comeback victory. The Bulls had opened up a 6 point lead and Rose had 2 turnovers and an ill-advised isolation jumper that allowed the Heat back in the lead. The unexpected hero* instead was Luol Deng, who hit a tough runner in the lane, and on another possession drew 2 fouls that helped put the Bulls back ahead, the second of which was off a FT miss that Noah tapped to him.
*in the last few minutes, I mean. Obviously Rose was the man for most of the game, and deserved far more FTAs than he received. The obligatory amazing highlight, too.
Clutch or unclutch on both sides, whatever. The important thing is that the Bulls have proven that even on the road, over the course of a full game they can play with Miami. And as noted after their last contest, as long as the Bulls can use their superior depth, play physical, and dominate inside, they can win. The role players for the Bulls again eclipsed the meager contributions of the non-Heatles. And, while Chris Bosh had a much better game and Boozer not so much this time around, the rebounding edge was still there, of course being critical on the missed Deng FT.
Whether or not the Heat figure out whatever's wrong with their closing ability (and it's easy to focus on that instead of great defense by Noah, who had his best game since returning) will be a fun sideshow in a season-long goal of laughing at and rooting against them. It's probably a bit flukey and they'll be better by playoff time. But after a weekend like this, the Bulls are in a position to where they won't have to see them again until the Eastern Conference Finals. There's so much to go before then, this edge in the season matchup will likely not be as much of a factor. But man, it was a great and memorable three games, and getting a top seed is the best edge of all.