Perhaps in response to their testy affair on the night the Bulls ended Miami's streak, the whistles were out early and often in this one. Miami shot 41 free-throws, their season-high. The Bulls didn't do too shabby themselves with 31 attempts (Kirk Hinrich attempted 9!). But the Bulls shot a miserable 35% from the field while the Heat were over 51%. And though the Bulls had their customary edge on the glass, with no Noah or Gibson it wasn't to the degree that they're used to.
The Heat had two of their rotation out with Battier and Haslem inactive, but their big 3 all played and over 30 minutes, though they are locked into their current seeding. Chris Andersen was their best role player today, going perfect from the field and 7-11 from the line to get to 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The Bulls did keep things close with a 32-point second quarter fueled by another Nate Robinson burst, but though they took a 2nd half lead it was brief. The Bulls only scored 39 points in that half. To be honest, I didn't catch a lot of that half. With Noah and Gibson out it's kind of not the real Bulls in these games anyway. From what I could follow, Boozer had some real doozys to follow up his atrocious first quarter stint, though somehow finished with his usual (hollow?) double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds.
The result did matter: the 6th seed is looking more likely now as the Bulls are now a game behind Atlanta with each having 2 to play. The Bulls do hold the tiebreaker though. It was mentioned pregame that Taj could be back for the team's final two games, a Noah appearance is looking less likely. Getting neither back to full strength makes any talk of 'avoiding' Miami until later playoff rounds seem silly. They will probably forget about Chicago until next year, but there hopefully will be a much fairer fight.