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(Wednesday, March 27th)
Final Score: Chicago 101, Miami 97
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The streak is over.
Luol Deng scored 28 points, Carlos Boozer added 21 with 17 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls clamped down defensively to come through with a 101-97 victory over the Miami Heat and put an end to the reigning NBA champions' 27-game unbeaten run.
Jimmy Butler chipped in 17 points for Chicago, which limited the Heat's potent offense to a 44.4 percent success rate from the field in the second half to deal Miami its first defeat since a 102-89 setback at Indiana on Feb. 1 -- despite All-Star center Joakim Noah sitting out a third straight outing with an injured foot.
"Miami is a great team, and you have to play great from start to finish," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Overall, we played from start to finish and stepped up."
LeBron James still managed 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the setback, and Dwyane Wade returned from a two-game absence to provide 18 points and seven rebounds. Those efforts still weren't quite enough to prevent Miami to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, trailing only a 33-game effort by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
"For the first time, I mentioned the streak in front of the guys [afterward]," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted. "It was worthy of at least stepping back for those few short moments. It was a heck of an experience for all of us to have together. We'll understand probably more so later on in our careers, the significance of that."
Chris Bosh finished with 21 points for the Heat.
Miami didn't go down easily, battling back from a 13-point first-half deficit to forge a 69-69 tie in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. A 6-0 surge vaulted the Bulls back in front, but Wade sunk consecutive baskets to bring the Heat within two with 7:24 left to play.
Deng then drained a clutch 3-pointer on the following possession, and buried another nearly a minute later as part of an 8-2 sequence that lengthened the lead to 83-75 with six minutes remaining.
Chicago's defense continued to render the Heat out of sync, and a Boozer putback followed by Nate Robinson's steal of James and subsequent layup put Miami down by a 98-89 count with 30.2 seconds left.
The Heat made one last desperate run in the closing moments, with Wade's steal and lay-in and a 3-pointer from Bosh with 5.5 seconds showing accounting for the final score before time eventually ran out.
Plagued by slow starts in a number of contests during their remarkable run, the Heat dug themselves another early hole in this one as well. Wade and James committed turnovers in the game's initial minute, while the Bulls knocked down six of their first eight shots to speed out to a quick 13-2 advantage.
Chicago shot better than 58 percent from the field for the opening quarter to build a 32-22 lead, and maintained a double-digit cushion for most of the second before entering the break ahead by a 55-46 count.
Deng led the way with 14 first-half points, with Boozer compiling a near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds.
Miami turned it up a notch defensively following the intermission, though, limiting the Bulls to 14 points in the third quarter to close the gap and moving in front for the first time of the night when back-to-back treys from Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier gave the Heat a 59-58 edge with 4:30 to go in the frame.
The game remained a nip-and-tuck affair until Chicago began to seize control in the final quarter.
Wade had missed Miami's last two games with a sore right knee ... The Heat entered the matchup averaging an Eastern Conference-best 103.5 points per game, but have averaged just 87 in three meetings with Chicago this season ... The Bulls' Marco Belinelli was inactive for a second straight game due to an abdominal strain ... The Bulls outrebounded Miami by a 43-31 margin and finished with a 22-6 advantage in second-chance points ... The game was part of the NBA's "Noche Latina" series celebrating Hispanic heritage, with Miami wearing "El Heat" across their uniforms and Chicago's sporting "Los Bulls".
03/28 01:46:02 ET
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