Heat Bull-ied in Chicago

Spoelstra: team "cracked" in 106-87 loss

CHICAGO --Tyrus Thomas rose high for the alley-oop and let out a loud roar after a thunderous dunk late in the third quarter.

The raucous crowd couldn’t drown him out. Opponents are having trouble, too.

John Salmons scored 27 points, Thomas came up big again and the Chicago Bulls beat Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat 106-87 on Thursday night for their sixth win in seven games.

The Bulls took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Heat 32-14, and moved into a seventh-place tie with Detroit in the Eastern Conference.

“Just a couple weeks ago, we were out of the playoffs and weren’t playing well,” said Salmons, acquired from Sacramento before the trade deadline and a big reason why the Bulls are climbing. “We’ve put a good string of games together.”

Salmons scored 13 points in the period as the Bulls turned a two-point deficit into a 79-63 lead and sent the Heat to their fifth loss in seven games.

Wade scored 31 points after hitting just five of 24 shots the previous night in a 90-88 loss at Indiana, but solid efforts by Chicago’s Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas to back Salmons helped the Bulls avoid a four-game sweep.

Gordon scored 18 points for the Bulls, who lead Charlotte by three games and Milwaukee by 3 1/2 .

Thomas added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and he was particularly good in the third, scoring seven points and blocking two shots.

“My confidence has always been there,” said Thomas, averaging 13.6 points and 11.4 rebounds the past five games and enjoying one of his best stretches.

Hinrich made his second straight start at point guard for Derrick Rose and finished with 15 points. Rose, meanwhile, contributed nine points and seven assists in 30 minutes after missing his first game because of a sprained right wrist.

The Heat won their previous two games against the Bulls by a total of five points and this one looked much the same through the first two quarters.

Wade, who scored 48 points and hit the winning 3-pointer in a double-overtime to beat Chicago earlier this month at American Airlines Arena, was at it again, scoring 21 points in the first half to give the Heat a 49-47 lead.

And then?

“They became the aggressors,” Wade said. “They got everything to go their way after they became the aggressors.”

Or, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra put it: “We cracked.”

“It happened so quickly,” Spoelstra added. “We call a couple of timeouts, but they really exploded offensively. They played with an incredible amount of speed and energy.”

Chicago started a 13-3 run early in the third to go ahead 64-56. And when the Heat responded with seven straight, the Bulls had an emphatic answer of their own, scoring the final 15 in the quarter.

Salmons started that spurt with a 3-pointer and a baseline drive, and Hinrich followed with another 3. After another basket by Salmons, Rose connected on an alley-oop pass to Thomas, who dunked and completed the three-point play after getting fouled by Wade with just over a minute left. Brad Miller added two free throws, making it 79-63, but make no mistake: the alley-oop punctuated the run. And the game.

“It came at the right time,” Thomas said. “It kind of helped the momentum of the team and broke the lead open.”

It was a good night all around for the Bulls.

They got another big win and a well-balanced performance. Most important, their star rookie looked OK.

Rose entered the game to a familiar chorus of cheers with 4:49 left in the first quarter, yet it was an odd sight considering he started the first 71 games and had no limitations on his minutes. So why did he come off the bench?

One reason coach Vinny Del Negro gave was there was still some pain in his wrist, which he injured on a dunk attempt Monday night at Washington. Another was the Bulls played well the following night in a 99-91 win over Detroit, with Hinrich contributing 24 points and eight assists.

“I feel good,” Rose said. “I had a lot of massages and therapy on it today. I got hit a few times, but you rub that stuff off and I will have time to recover.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us