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Bulls’ winning streak snapped by LeBron-less Heat in 93-79 loss

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Updated: February 24, 2014 6:18PM



MIAMI — Bulls center Joakim Noah never would’ve guessed that his teammates needed a history lesson.

Not against the Miami Heat, which has eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs two of the last three seasons.

But after a 93-79 loss Sunday against the Heat at American Airlines Arena with LeBron James out with a broken nose, well, school was in session.

“I don’t care about missed shots,’’ Noah said. “When we play the Miami Heat, our intensity has to be high the whole time. That’s what is disappointing.

‘‘We play the Miami Heat, those guys ended our seasons a lot. You gotta hate playing these guys. Every time we play them, our intensity has to be high. We did it in spurts. It wasn’t good the whole time.’’

Noah did his part, scoring 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds.

He was one of the few Bulls to show up, however, considering they shot 36 percent from the field and had seven shot-clock violations.

“I’m frustrated about the game,’’ Noah said. “I feel we could’ve definitely played a lot better.

‘‘When we play the Heat, our intensity has to be through the roof for 48 [minutes] regardless if shots are going in or not. It has to be bigger. Of course, you want to win the game, but the way we’re going to win is our edge and intensity have to be better than theirs throughout the game.’’

Tied 40-40 at the half, the Bulls were a complete no-show in the third quarter.

The Bulls (29-26) shot 5-for-20 from the field in the third and had six turnovers that led to 12 Heat points. An 0-for-6 showing from three-point range in the quarter didn’t help their cause.

“We definitely have to learn from this,’’ Noah said. “Mentally, our approach wasn’t where it needed to be.

‘‘We let frustration get to us. You have to move on. Your mentality has to be next play throughout the game because it just keeps going. You can’t let one mistake lead to other mistakes, especially against a team that talented.’’

Taj Gibson agreed, with or without James in the lineup.

“It doesn’t matter if LeBron is out or in,’’ Gibson said. “That team is a good team. That team has other players other than LeBron. They have Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade. People seem to forget that they were All-Stars, too. That bench is deep.

“We still played as if LeBron played. We didn’t shy away. We understand that’s a championship team.

‘‘We just didn’t regroup the right way in the second half, and the Heat made a lot of big-time shots.’’

Gibson came off the bench with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but Bosh had 28 points and Wade 23 to help put an end to the Bulls’ five-game winning streak.

The Heat also made nine three-pointers.

D.J. Augustin went 0-for-10 from the field, and Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell combined to go 6-for-20.

“You got to stick your nose in there; you gotta play tough,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You don’t play tough, you don’t win in this league.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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