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Heat cruises in OT, claims 3-1 edge in East final

The Heat’s LeBron James, who scored a game-high 35, and Dwyane Wade, who had 14 points, celebrate their overtime victory.

Associated Press

The Heat’s LeBron James, who scored a game-high 35, and Dwyane Wade, who had 14 points, celebrate their overtime victory.

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was ailing, so LeBron James and Chris Bosh more than picked up the slack.

Then Wade found his groove at the perfect time, and the Heat moved one win away from the NBA Finals.

James scored 35, Bosh added 22 and the Heat overcame an early 11-point deficit to beat the Bulls 101-93 in overtime Tuesday night, taking a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final.

"We did what we wanted to do, protect homecourt," James said. "We needed extra innings. … It was a great team win."

Game 5 is Thursday in Chicago, when the Heat can wrap up its first Finals trip since 2006.

Wade went scoreless for nearly 33 straight minutes, before making a jumper with 2:08 left in overtime to help Miami keep the lead.

"My teammates told me to stick with it," he said. "I stuck with it and was able to help close it out at the end."

And after James made a contested jumper with 29 seconds remaining for a six-point lead, Wade soared to block Derrick Rose's layup from out of almost nowhere on the next Chicago possession.

At long last, it was over.

Bosh scored the first four points of overtime, and the Heat — now 8-0 at home in the playoffs — never trailed in the extra session. James closed it with two free throws with 1.4 seconds left, his 12th and 13th of the night, all without a miss. Bosh was 10-for-11 from the line, and Miami outscored Chicago 32-17 in that department.

The Heat made its final 24 free throws.

Rose scored 23 for the Bulls, who got 20 apiece from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Chicago has lost three straight for the first time this season.

But what this game will be remembered for was how the Heat rallied around Wade — then watched him save his best for the very end.

Wade made just 5 of 16 shots from the field, lacking his usual lift at the rim. He made a pair of free throws with 1:50 left in the first half for his seventh and eighth points and didn't score again until overtime.

A day after being fined $50,000 for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan in Game 3, Bulls center Joakim Noah had six points and 14 rebounds in 45 minutes. And there seemed to be very little, if any, unusual rancor from Miami fans toward Noah.

Chicago's lead was 46-44 at halftime, after some wild emotional swings — a 19-4 run by the Bulls, followed by a 29-9 spurt for the Heat, then capped by an 18-7 rebuttal by the Bulls to close the second quarter.

Heat 101, Bulls 93 OT

CHICAGO (93): Deng 8-16 2-2 20, Boozer 7-14 6-9 20, Noah 3-10 0-0 6, Rose 8-27 6-7 23, Bogans 2-6 0-0 6, Brewer 2-3 2-3 7, Gibson 0-1 0-0 0, Asik 0-0 0-0 0, Korver 2-6 1-1 5, Watson 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 35-87 17-22 93.

MIAMI (101): James 11-26 13-13 35, Bosh 6-12 10-11 22, Anthony 0-0 2-4 2, Bibby 2-5 0-2 5, Wade 5-16 4-4 14, Haslem 0-5 2-2 2, Miller 5-8 0-0 12, Chalmers 3-3 1-2 9. Totals 32-75 32-38 101.

Chicago 19 27 22 17 8— 93

Miami 16 28 19 22 16— 101

3-Point GoalsChicago 6-24 (Deng 2-5, Bogans 2-6, Brewer 1-1, Rose 1-9, Korver 0-3), Miami 5-13 (Chalmers 2-2, Miller 2-5, Bibby 1-3, James 0-1, Bosh 0-1, Wade 0-1). Fouled OutNoah. ReboundsChicago 57 (Noah 14), Miami 49 (Haslem, Miller 9). AssistsChicago 20 (Noah, Rose 6), Miami 12 (James 6). Total FoulsChicago 28, Miami 24. TechnicalsMiami defensive three second 2. Flagrant Fouls—Boozer. A20,125 (19,600).

Noah says fine 'fair': Noah said the league's decision to fine him $50,000 for directing an anti-gay slur toward a fan is "fair" and that he should have avoided the situation during Game 3 in Miami. "I made a mistake, learned from it and move on," the former Florida standout said. "That's about it."

Labor saga: The players association filed an unfair labor charge against the league with the National Labor Relations Board, a move it hopes could block a lockout. The union said the league hasn't bargained in good faith, has made financial demands without offering concessions to the players and has bypassed the union to deal with players. The league said the charge has no merit. The sides are trying to reach a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires June 30.

Conference finals

East

Heat 3, Bulls 1

Game 1: Bulls 103, Heat 82

Game 2: Heat 85, Bulls 75

Game 3: Heat 96, Bulls 85

Tuesday: Heat 101, Bulls 93 OT

Thursday: at Chicago, 8:30, TNT

Saturday: at Miami, 8:30, TNT *

Monday: at Chicago, 8:30, TNT *

West

Mavericks 3, Thunder 1

Game 1: Mavericks 121, Thunder 112

Game 2: Thunder 106, Mavericks 100

Game 3: Mavericks 93, Thunder 87

Monday: Mavericks 112, Thunder 105 OT

Tonight: at Dallas, 9, ESPN

Friday: at Oklahoma City, 9, ESPN *

Sunday: at Dallas, 9, ESPN *

* If necessary

Heat cruises in OT, claims 3-1 edge in East final 05/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:11am]
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