MIAMI, FL - MAY 22: Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls posts up against Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\GYI0064864614.jpg
Updated: June 24, 2011 12:30AM
MIAMI — A big game for Carlos Boozer. A bigger game for Chris Bosh. In a frustrating postseason of injuries and tough matchups, it seems like Boozer just can’t win.
The Bulls forward overcame a difficult first quarter — when he was 0-for-5 from the field and failed to score — to total 26 points and grab 17 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards, in the Bulls’ 96-85 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night at American Airlines Arena.
‘‘I just played off my teammates,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘Let them do their thing and try to find the open areas and be aggressive when I got it.’’
Boozer hit 8 of 11 shots in the second and third quarters but was 0-for-3 in the fourth — though he did hit five free throws — as the Heat pulled away to take a 2-1 series lead.
‘‘They’re a good team. They’re here for a reason,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘We have to do a better job on their other guys. It’s tough when you put so much attention on LeBron [James] and D-Wade. We have to be able to help and recover to our men.’’
And Bosh countered with an even better performance — 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting.
‘‘He’s hitting a lot of jump shots right now,’’ Boozer said. We have to try and make him drive to inside help and see where it goes from there.’’
Boozer was coming off a seven-point, eight-rebound performance in Game 2. And it didn’t look good when he missed all five of his first-quarter shots. But he scored eight of the Bulls’ first 10 points in the second quarter to keep the Bulls close.
‘‘I thought I was getting the shots I liked [in the first quarter], so I just kept getting to the spots I wanted to get to,’’ Boozer said.
But as effective as he was in the middle portion of the game, the Bulls still struggled against the Heat’s defense. They shot 42 percent (32-for-77) from the field.
‘‘They did a good job of swarming. They played the passing lanes real good,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘They’re an athletic team. Very active. We’ve got to take care of the ball a little better and hit the open man. You have to give them credit. They did a great job.’’
Boozer called Game 4 a must-win for the Bulls
‘‘We feel like we had chances to win these last two games,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘We’re not frustrated to the point where we’re not going to keep fighting. That’s not our character. We’re a tough-minded team. A tough group of guys. We’ll be right back at it in Game 4.’’