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Bulls beat Heat behind another big game from Carlos Boozer

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer drives around Miami’s Chris Bosh Friday. Boozer had 12 rebounds. | J PCarter~AP

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer drives around Miami’s Chris Bosh on Friday. Boozer had 12 rebounds. | J Pat Carter~AP

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Updated: February 6, 2013 6:14AM



MIAMI — Thanks to a dominant showing on the boards Friday, the Bulls again played giant killers, beating the Miami Heat 96-89 at American Airlines Arena.

No small feat, considering the Heat (22-9) had the best record in the Eastern Conference and the best home record in the NBA at 15-2. Make that 15-3 now, and Bulls center Joakim Noah loved every minute of it.

Playing in his first game since he was sidelined most of the week with flulike symptoms, Noah scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out four assists, but it was his postgame interview that spoke volumes about just how big this victory was for him and his teammates.

“It’s a great win for us,’’ Noah said. “We just pounded the glass [48-28 advantage]. It was a great team effort, and we needed it. We haven’t been playing great basketball, and this is probably the biggest win of the year against the defending champs. It feels good.

“I know what’s going to happen. [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] is going to get them hyped for the next game because we kicked their butt on the glass. They’re going to try to make it a physical game, and that’s cool.’’

It wasn’t the only thing Noah filed under the “cool’’ category, either. Teammate Carlos Boozer was given a big thumbs up by Noah, not only for his team-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, but the two hustle plays in which he went to the floor, fought for loose balls and somehow wrestled them away to keep possessions alive.

Boozer also led the way with 31 points in the Bulls’ victory Wednesday over the Orlando Magic.

He had six offensive rebounds to Miami’s four.

“They’re the defending champions, and they’re a great team,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They don’t give you anything. I think that shows us how important rebounding is.’’

Along with finally finishing teams off in the fourth quarter.

After Noah was called for a flagrant foul for a horse-collar of James, the Heat star rattled off six of his 30 points to cut Miami’s deficit to 75-72 with just over nine minutes left. The Bulls (18-13) found an answer, however, as Nate Robinson scored seven of the team’s next nine points, including a three-pointer that increased the lead to 10.

“Welcome to the Heat,’’ Spoelstra said. “We’ve dealt with getting a team’s best for a couple of years. Every regular-season game has a little more oomph to it.’’



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