MIAMI (AP) — Carlos Boozer said the Chicago Bulls were feeling cheated. Mario Chalmers said the Miami Heat thought they were getting too many cheap shots.
Tensions and emotions are now nearly as high as the stakes.
In other words, this Bulls-Heat series is just getting started.
Ray Allen scored 21 points in less than 19 minutes off the bench, LeBron James scored all 19 of his points in the first half and the Heat led by as many as 46 on the way to a wild, whistle-filled 115-78 win over the Bulls in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup on Wednesday night. The series is tied at a game apiece and shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night.
"We did a pretty good job of just staying the course," James said. "We just came in with a mindset to be aggressive and play our game. With everything that was going on, we just tried to keep our composure."
They did that last part with ease.
Of course, when you're winning by 46, it's easy to stay composed — though for most of the first half, a runaway game seemed highly unlikely.
The first hard foul of the night came 12 seconds into the game, when Udonis Haslem collided with Nate Robinson and sent the diminutive Bulls guard crashing to the hardwood. Marco Belinelli retaliated with a healthy smack against Dwyane Wade nine seconds later, and the Heat guard picked up the first of nine technical fouls in the game.
Six of those technicals went against the Bulls, including two each for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, who both departed angrily with 10:13 remaining. At least one fan directed an obscene gesture toward Noah as he left, and television cameras caught Gibson using plenty of inappropriate language before he retreated out of sight for the rest of the night.
"This hardly happens to me," Gibson said. "It's a sign of frustration. We just got blown out. You don't want to get blown out."
Robinson and Marquis Teague also got technicals for Chicago. For Miami, Wade, James and Chalmers all got assessed technicals, and Chris Andersen was called for a flagrant foul.
"Things don't go your way, you're competitors, you want to go out there and do everything you can when you feel you're being cheated," Boozer said. "You're going to say something about it. But regardless we don't place the blame on anybody else, we put it on our shoulders and we'll play better."
Really, they couldn't play much worse. The numbers were beyond dreadful.
The Bulls shot just under 36 percent, while Miami connected on 60 percent of its shots. Chicago was outrebounded 41-28, a big shift from Game 1, when the Bulls were dominant on the glass. And other stats were unfathomably bad: The Bulls were outscored by huge margins in bench points (55-25), fast-break points (20-2) and points off turnovers (28-7).
Still, the Bulls got a split in Miami. Home-court advantage in this series is theirs, and that surely will help them turn the page quickly from Wednesday's debacle.
"We didn't play well, but it's not the end of the world," Noah said. "It's 1-1, and it's going to be a big game in Chicago."
Continue reading this story on the...