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Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls fight for a loose ball during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday.
The Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 94-91 win Wednesday night.
In their fourth straight win after losing Game 1 of their semifinal series with Chicago, Miami came back from a 10-point third-quarter deficit, and their victory was not assured until Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler missed two game-tying 3-point attempts in the last 30 seconds.
LeBron James led the Heat with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Dwyane Wade scored 18 points, including 6 in the fourth quarter after leaving to get his right knee re-taped in the locker room in the third quarter.
Chris Bosh scored 12 points with 7 rebounds, Udonis Haslem scored 10, and Norris Cole scored go-ahead buckets on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, the second of which put Miami up for good.
It looked like Miami would romp early. The Heat built up a 22-4 lead to start the game, making their first seven field goals and held Chicago to 2 of 8 shooting. But the Bulls stormed back, outscoring the Heat 49-25 through the rest of the first half to take a 6-point lead into the break.
Miami fell further behind in the third quarter, trailing 77-69 heading into the final period. But the Heat held Chicago to just 14 points in the fourth quarter and scored on seven consecutive possessions to take the lead.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Nate Robinson added 21, while Richard Hamilton scored 15 off the bench.
For the 99th straight game, Derrick Rose did not play for the Bulls, who were also without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich for the fifth time in the series.
The Heat will play the winner of the New York-Indiana series in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers lead the Knicks 3-1, and if they win Thursday night in New York the two would begin their series on Monday night in Miami.
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