Push league: Nazr Mohammed ejected as Bulls fall to Heat
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 10, 2013 10:20PM
Bulls center Nazr Mohammed shoves Heat forward LeBron James to the court and earns a technical foul and an ejection for his actions with 9:29 left in the second quarter as the Chicago Bulls battle the Miami Heat in game three of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal game May 10, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
at Heat 86
at Heat 115
Bulls 78GAME 3
at Bulls 94GAME 4
6 p.m. Monday
at Bulls, TNTGAME 5
6 p.m. Wednesday
at Heat, TNT
GAME 6 if necessary
TBD May 17
GAME 7 if necessary
TBD May 19
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:09PM
Sitting calmly after his Miami Heat beat the Bulls 104-94 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night, LeBron James put what happened in the second quarter into perspective.
It wasn’t easy because, as James said, ‘‘I haven’t been in a situation like that before.’’
With 9:29 left in the half and the Bulls up by three points, James was headed down the court with the ball when Bulls reserve Nazr Mohammed swooped in and wrapped him up. James, the four-time NBA MVP, appeared to lock arms with Mohammed as he shoved him away and was hit with a technical foul. Before official Joey Crawford could finish gesturing the T, Mohammed shoved James to the ground and was ejected.
James stayed down on the court, keeping his cool in a series that’s caught somewhere between a playground game and a street fight.
‘‘If it would have happened on the playground, it would have been a different story because I had a bunch of friends, a bunch of buddies that would have not allowed that,’’ James said of the Mohammed play. ‘‘I haven’t been in a situation like that before, but I’m too cool — my mind is in another place right now . . .
‘‘Listen, if I get kicked out and Nazr Mohammed gets kicked out at the same time, they win.’’
The Bulls didn’t win, though.
And with their second straight loss to the Heat in this best-of-seven series, they also saw the home-court advantage they gained in Game 1 ripped right back.
To make matters worse, with Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) and Luol Deng (complications from a spinal tap) out again, the Bulls might also be without Mohammed, who’s expecting a suspension — though he didn’t think even the ejection was necessary.
“It was a flagrant foul,’’ Mohammed said. ‘‘But an ejection? Nope.’’
Said teammate Taj Gibson: ‘‘For Naz to react the way that he did, it had to be serious. The way [James] hit Naz, Naz didn’t really appreciate it. There’s going to be a lot of cheap shots out there — the refs don’t get to see them all. But Naz just felt like he needed to react, and unfortunately, LeBron bounced off him pretty hard.’’
Unfortunately for the Bulls, James got back up. And after a quiet first half, he took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his game-high 25 points in the final 12 minutes and turning a 70-70 tie after three quarters into a comfortable 10-point win.
‘‘We lost the battle, didn’t lose the war, a lot of basketball left,’’ Bulls center Joakim Noah said. ‘‘There were just a couple things we could have done better, and that could have been the difference between winning and losing, so we’re disappointed, but not discouraged.’’
With the Bulls down 2-1 in the series now, an almost bigger story is the physical play that has continued. With three more technical fouls issued Friday, that brings the total from the last two games to 12 technicals, three ejections and one $25,000 fine for Gibson, with more likely to come for Mohammed.
‘‘We got guys that are fighters right now,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘Emotions are going to fly, the rivalry, and it doesn’t get any better than that.’’