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Bulls set new playoff low in Game 4 loss to Heat

  • Article by: ANDREW SELIGMAN
  • Associated Press
  • May 13, 2013 - 10:57 PM

CHICAGO - Screws and bandages aren't exactly working for the Chicago Bulls.

If they don't find some new remedies soon, their season will be over.

LeBron James scored 27 points and the Miami Heat nearly matched a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game, pounding the listless and short-handed Bulls 88-65 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The 65 points allowed were only two more than the all-time postseason low for a Miami opponent, and it was easily the worst offensive performance by a Chicago team in the playoffs.

"We're kind of putting screws and bandages everywhere. It's frustrating," Chicago's Taj Gibson said. "Every night and every day."

The Bulls have endured the season-long soap opera surrounding Derrick Rose's recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, not to mention injuries and illnesses to just about every other key player.

The postseason has been particularly rough. They were again missing the ailing Luol Deng and injured Kirk Hinrich (calf), and it looks as though they've met their match in the defending champions.

Never before had the Bulls scored fewer than 69 in a playoff game nor 10 or less in a quarter during the postseason, but both those marks fell on a night when they were dominated on both ends of the floor.

"You just gather yourself tonight and get some rest," Joakim Noah said.

What else can the Bulls do?

Miami led by 11 at the half and put this one away in the third quarter, outscoring Chicago 17-9 in the period.

Now the Heat will try to wrap up the series at home Wednesday night, taking what they hope will be the next step toward a second straight championship.

It's hard to believe the Bulls won the series opener the way the past three games have gone.

Miami pounded Chicago in Game 2, coming away with its most lopsided playoff victory while handing the Bulls their worst ever postseason loss — and the Heat continued to roll from there.

James had his usual complete game with eight assists and seven rebounds Monday.

Bosh finished with 14 points after scoring 20 and grabbing 19 rebounds in Game 3, and the Heat won again despite another quiet night from Dwyane Wade (six points), whose right knee was bothering him again. He appeared to aggravate it on a fallaway jumper during the game but was able to return after getting re-taped.

"It's frustrating at times, but you just try to do what you can," Wade said.

Norris Cole also struggled with seven points after back-to-back 18-point performances, but the Heat had more than enough in this one.

They shot about 49 percent while the Bulls set a franchise playoff low at 25.7 percent. Chicago was particularly bad from the outside, going 2 for 17 from 3-point range.

But if the Bulls have run out of steam, Thibodeau tried to shoot down that idea.

"No," he said. "I think the thing is they're (Heat) a great team. We have to come out with great intensity — but we also have to make shots."

There's no denying the Bulls have been in a difficult spot all year.

"They're in a tough situation," James said. "They've had some injuries and illnesses and whatever's going on. They don't have their full roster, but that's not for us to worry about. They beat a very good Brooklyn team (in the first round) without their full roster."

Carlos Boozer had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double in the postseason but was just 3 of 14 from the field. Jimmy Butler scored 12 and Joakim Noah grabbed nine rebounds, but it was a miserable night for Chicago — particularly Nate Robinson. With Cole and Mario Chalmers harassing him and the big men helping out, he missed all 12 of his shots and did not score.

He said he fell hard on his left shoulder on a pick-and-roll at one point, although he couldn't remember exactly when, and had it wrapped in ice afterward. Then he took off the wrapping and threw it hard to the floor.

"Go back to the drawing board and figure it out," he said.

Notes: The Heat and Bulls were well represented on the NBA's all-defensive first team, with James and Noah being selected. ... Thibodeau had nothing to say about the $35,000 fine from the league for comments he made about the officiating in Game 3. Asked if he was surprised by the amount, he said, "I've got no comment on that. We're just getting ready for Game 4." ... Deng was listed as active after initially being ruled out for Chicago. Hinrich and Rose were inactive.

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