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Bulls’ team play, suffocating ‘D,’ rabid crowd discombobulate Heat

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Banks: Bosh regains his shooting touch
Cowley: Rose is new king of NBA
Morrissey: Bench Mob shows it can dominate
Telander: LeBron's talents go south
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Updated: August 14, 2011 12:21AM



Going in, all signs pointed to a memorable Eastern Conference finals, possibly the first volley in a long-playing postseason rivalry.

On one side, the Miami Heat had Two and a Half Men. No disrespect to Chris Bosh, but the focus is always on perimeter wizards LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

In the Bulls’ corner, the big question was whether Derrick Rose was going to be the Bulls’ Lone Ranger, or whether he’d find enough complementary firepower from a posse of candidates that includes Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson.

Score one for Rose’s posse. They lassoed the James gang 103-82 Sunday at a delirious United Center to take Game 1.

‘‘During the national anthem, it was crazy in here, so we were ready to go,’’ said center Joakim Noah, who had nine points and 14 rebounds, eight of them on offense. ‘‘We played with the right focus, but we know there’s a lot of basketball to be played. We’re hungry. We’re not satisfied with just one win.’’

Bosh (30) and Wade (18) got their points. But the Bulls achieved their goal of making life difficult for James (15 points on 5-for-15 shooting, four turnovers).

‘‘We were just trying to pull in and let him see a lot of jerseys,’’ guard Ronnie Brewer said. ‘‘When [they] see a clear lane, usually you see LeBron and Wade dunking the basketball on ‘SportsCenter.’

‘‘If you’re pulling over and making them make passes or take pull-up jump shots, if they’re not hitting, we’re able to get the rebounds. That’s how we dominated the rebounds.’’

Led by Noah, the Bulls controlled the boards 45-33, including a 19-6 offensive-rebound edge that helped them come up with 31 second-chance points. Miami had eight.

‘‘We just tried to make it hard,’’ Rose said. ‘‘They’re a great offensive team.

‘‘We just made sure it was tough. Taj, Omer [Asik], Lu, everybody was making sure their man was in front of them and contesting all their shots and layups when they were going to the basket.’’

Rose (28 points) led a solid scoring effort by the Bulls’ starting five. And their bench outscored Miami’s reserves 28-15.

The Bench Mob even outscored the Heat’s bench plus starters Mike Bibby and Joel Anthony 28-19.

‘‘Our bench has been great all year,’’ said coach Tom Thibodeau, who seems more comfortable with playing his bench more. ‘‘You can count on their energy and effort, and they all bring something different.

‘‘Ronnie was all over the place. He was everywhere.’’

And Gibson had some thunder dunks as well as two of the Bulls’ five blocked shots.

What really made the Bulls dominant, though, was the kind of defense that could continue to make things difficult for the Heat’s 21/2 men.

And Miami’s vice is that it doesn’t have a lot going on beyond its star trio.

‘‘The Bulls are a very good defensive team,’’ James said. ‘‘They make you take tough shots.

‘‘I missed a number of shots I normally make. It’s just one of those nights that, individually, I didn’t have it going.’’

Counting their three-game regular-season sweep, the Bulls are 4-0 against Miami this season. But don’t get any ideas.

The Bulls certainly aren’t. Home teams not only are supposed to win at this point; they need to win.

‘‘Honestly, we feel like we can play better,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘We don’t feel like we played our best game.’’

Rose expressed the same single-minded sentiment.

‘‘After we look at film [today], this game is going to be out of our minds,’’ said Rose, who had a turnover-less second half after making four miscues in the first half. ‘‘Careless turnovers. You can’t do that against this team. I have to do way better. They’re a good team. We have to keep going, keep fighting. But, if anything, our defense has to be there.’’’

As Thibodeau always says, there are a lot of things you can’t control. Defense is not one of them, though.



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