Boozer leads Bulls to blowout of Heat
CHICAGO – Carlos Boozer scored 27 points, and the Bulls beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat, 107-87, on Thursday night.
Luol Deng had 20 points, Taj Gibson chipped in with 19, and Joakim Noah added 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls had no trouble knocking off the defending champions.
Chicago took control early on and hung on down the stretch after watching a 25-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to 12 late in the game.
It was an impressive showing by a team that had dropped six of seven and is once again trying to get by without the injured Derrick Rose.
The Bulls shot 50 percent and was 10 for 19 on 3-pointers — four by Deng and three by Kirk Hinrich, who scored 13. They also outrebounded Miami 49-27.
James scored 21 points for Miami, but the Heat shot a season low for the second straight game, converting 41.6 percent from the field after hitting 43.9 percent in Tuesday's loss to Detroit.
It didn't help that Dwyane Wade stayed back at the hotel with an illness after sitting out the previous game because of knee soreness.
Chris Andersen missed this one for personal reasons, but the Heat will get no sympathy from Chicago.
After all, the Bulls lost Rose to a torn meniscus in his right knee in a game at Portland on Nov. 22, and although the former MVP left the door slightly open for a playoff return earlier in the day, the team has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
The Bulls were just fine without him on Thursday, although things got a little tight down the stretch.
Miami cut it to 93-81 on Norris Cole's runner with 5:38 remaining. But Gibson answered with a jumper and blocked a layup by Udonis Haslem.
Deng made a 3 with just under four minutes left to make it 98-81, and Chicago hung on from there.
Before that, the only tension came early in the third quarter when Hinrich took a shot to the neck from Cole away from the ball. The result was an angry exchange, a flagrant foul one for Cole and a technical for Hinrich.
The Bulls' guard hit both free throws after James missed a foul shot, making it 67-45.
Boozer led a scorching start by Chicago, scoring 19 points as the Bulls built a 58-44 halftime lead.
NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95. ... Andersen expected to rejoin Miami on Friday in Minnesota. The Heat play the Timberwolves on Saturday.