Monday, February 24, 2014
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Heat beat Bulls as James sits out with broken nose

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[February 24, 2014]  MIAMI  Chris Bosh has "reinvented" himself.

That's the assessment of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who has seen his 6-foot-11 forward transform himself over the past two years.

On Sunday, with Heat star forward LeBron James out with a broken nose, Bosh provided 28 points, 10 rebounds and no turnovers to lead Miami to a 93-79 win over the Chicago Bulls 93-79 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat also got 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists from guard Dwyane Wade and held the Bulls to .358 percent shooting, forcing seven 24-second violations.

Bosh made 4 of 9 on 3-pointers as the Heat won while playing its first home game in 20 days.

"(Bosh) has been an incredibly accurate shooter from 18 feet for a long time," said Spoelstra, who earned his 300th career win in the NBA. "It just took just a little extra work to extend his range."


That extra work, Spoelstra said, began two years ago when Bosh was injured during a playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.

"I distinctly remember that's when we started the process," Spoelstra said. "We had him working on 3s every day as part of his routine.

"Then, from there, he has just started to ramp it up a little bit more. Each year, we become a little more comfortable with him on the perimeter. He has reinvented himself after 10 years in the league for the necessity of this team.

"For a guy to have that understanding and that willingness to do that is amazing. We knew that would open up the door to a flood of criticism. 'What is he doing out there? What is a big man doing shooting 3s?'"

What it's done is give the Heat spacing and allowed them to win even on days when James is out. In fact, the Heat is 2-0 this season without James, and Bosh had 37 points against Portland in the only other game that Miami's superstar missed this season.

"I think (3-point shooting) will help extend my career," Bosh said. "I just want to give different dynamics to my game and be as versatile as possible."

With Sunday's win, the Heat (40-14), who have won five in a row, are just one game behind the Pacers in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls (29-26), who are in fourth place in the East, had their five-game win streak snapped.

The Heat's next game is Thursday, when the New York Knicks visit. James is expected to return for that game, which would give him exactly one week of rest since he got hurt while driving to the rim against Oklahoma City. James was hit by Thunder center Serge Ibaka, although no foul was called.

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Wearing a light-gray suit, James sat on the Heat bench Sunday, giving his teammates instructions and, at one point, flipping a ball underhand and in the basket from out of bounds  a couple of feet behind the corner 3-point line.

James watched as Bosh scored seven of his points in the third quarter, when the Heat went on a 16-2 run that, in essence, won the game. The Heat led 65-52 after three quarters, following a first half in which neither team led by more than five points.

With James out, the Heat started center Greg Oden, who entered the game having played a combined total of just 78 minutes all season. It was just his 11th game of the season and his first start in nearly five years.

Oden had five points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

Miami also got 12 points and nine assists from Mario Chalmers, the Heat's point guard.

Chalmers said that even though James did not play, he still helped.

"LeBron has a lot of knowledge of the game," Chalmers said. "He gives me different pointers, and I put them to use."

Chicago was led by center Joakim Noah's 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Noah, though, said his team played hard only in spurts.

"The Heat has ended our seasons a lot  you have to hate playing them," he said. "Every time we play them, our intensity has to be high the whole game. This was disappointing."

The Bulls also got 20 points and 10 rebounds from reserve forward Taj Gibson.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau was pleased with the first half  when the teams were tied 40-40  but seemed frustrated about what happened next.

"In the second half, (Miami) ended up with 53 points," he said. "We can't win on the road like that. The Heat played harder than us in the second half."


NOTES: Bulls SG Jimmy Butler sat out Sunday due to a ribs injury. ... Rookie SG Tony Snell started in place of Butler. It was the 11th start of the season for the first-round pick (20th overall). ... Since Jan. 1, the Bulls have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. ... The Heat entered Sunday 39-14  the same exact record they have had all three years of the LeBron James Era. ... Since the end of last season, the Heat have gotten rid of three players in an effort to save money in luxury taxes  SG Roger Mason, SG Mike Miller and C Joel Anthony. ... Mason was the most recent one, getting traded to the Kings on Thursday in a deal that also gave the Heat roster flexibility should they want to pick up a released player before the end of the regular season. ... While the Heat made, at best, a lateral move with Mason at the trading deadline, their chief rival in the East, Indiana, acquired a standout guard in Evan Turner. ... Next up for the Bulls is Tuesday's game at the Atlanta Hawks.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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