Quantcast

Basketball / Sports

Heat's LeBron James sits out with a broken nose as Miami faces the Chicago Bulls at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

Intensity lacking as Bulls fall meekly to Heat

MIAMI -- Following a season-ending playoff loss in Chicago, Joakim Noah once defiantly dubbed the Heat "Hollywood as hell.

After a regular-season-victory in Miami, the All-Star center once jubilantly declared "that small ball isn't going to work against us."

Following the Bulls' desultory showing in an offensively-challenged 93-79 loss Sunday that snapped a five-game winning streak, Noah aimed his strong words inward.

Minutes after coach Tom Thibodeau rued missed shots -- and there were plenty of those -- affecting other areas, Noah flashed leadership that went beyond his 20 points and 15 rebounds in 40 hustling minutes.

"I don't care about missed shots," Noah said. "When we play the Miami Heat, our intensity has to be high the whole time. To me, that's what disappointing. I mean, those guys ended our seasons a lot. You gotta hate playing these guys."

Noah said he didn't know if the five-game winning streak made chests puff or if LeBron James sitting out with a broken nose made players exhale. What he's sure of is the Bulls' calling card of playing with an edge and outworking opponents didn't show up.

"We definitely have to learn from this," he said. "Mentally, our approach wasn't where it needed to be. We let frustration get to us. You have to move on. Your mentality has to be 'next play' throughout the game because it just keeps going. You can't let one mistake lead to other mistakes, especially against a team that talented."

The Heat are that, James or no James. Chris Bosh's 28 points and Dwyane Wade's 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists underscored coach Erik Spoelstra's 300th career victory. And their stifling defense forced an astounding seven shot-clock violations and several other forced shots to avoid more violations.

"You've got to know where the clock is," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have some guys who aren't experienced and are holding on to it. You've got to drive the ball and get it up on the rim. That will come."

Thibodeau doesn't like to single out players, but rookie Tony Snell started for the injured Jimmy Butler. After playing the entire first half, Snell was yanked just 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the second half as the Heat went on an offensive rebounding frenzy.

Asked how Snell fared, Thibodeau was blunt.

"He could do better," he said.

And to single out Snell would be as wrong as blaming D.J. Augustin for shooting 0-for-10, given how many times Augustin has bailed out the offense. As a whole, the Bulls didn't play with their usual edge.

They failed to score the first 6:09 of the second quarter, missing 10 straight shots until a dunk by Taj Gibson, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. The wheels came off in the third, when the Bulls shot 5-for-20 and the Heat closed with a 16-2 run.

The Bulls stayed in Miami overnight Sunday, which meant they could at least soothe their sorrows at South Beach. If Thibodeau used curfew, he'd have been smart not to make it 24 seconds. That would've been violated.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

----

HEAT


Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus