The Bulls did all they could in Game 4 to try and bring the series back to the United Center and make it a best-of-three, but they ran out of gas in the overtime period as the Miami Heat took a commanding 3-1 lead, winning 101-93 in AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday.
Derrick Rose split a pair of free throws that tied the game at 85 with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade’s missed jumper would be followed by a Rose miss with 28 seconds remaining and possession to Miami with 28 seconds remaining. LeBron James would be called for an offensive foul with 9 seconds remaining, giving the Bulls one last shot to tie the best of seven series but Rose would airball an 18-footer against the outstretched hands of James.
The Heat would dominate the extra session, outscoring the Bulls 16-8 and forcing them into 2-7 shooting and three turnovers.
Rose scored 23 on 8-27 shooting from the field to go along with 6 assists. Carlos Boozer added 20 points and 11 rebounds and Luol Deng contributed 20 points to go along with 8 rebounds.
“We just didn’t close the game,” said Deng. “That’s what it came down to. “We’ve just got to close it. We played hard. We just couldn’t close the game.
“We’ve just got to do a better job. A lot of us haven’t been here and we’re learning as we go through these games, but we’ve just got to close games. The last three games, we haven’t been able to,” he continued. “It’s a lot of stuff defensively, offensively, executing, making shots, defensive-coverages; They were just better in that five minutes.”
While any of the players would never agree to being fatigued in the extra period, it was apparent in just the way the offense was unsteady and the defense never settled.
The Bulls also committed 22 turnovers that led to 26 Heat points.
“We can’t turn the ball over against this team at all,” said Joakim Noah who contributed 14 rebounds and 6 assists to go with 6 points. “They get out on the break and they’re really tough to stop in that situation.”
James led the Heat with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. He seem to answer every Bulls run with one of his own and his defense on Rose in the fourth quarter might have fatigued the 22-year-old MVP as the Bulls had to run Rose off of screens to even try and prevent him from being double-teamed on pick and rolls. Rose went 0-5 from the field in the fourth period.
“Tonight was definitely on me,” said Rose. “I had three opportunities to end the game. I couldn’t do it. I have to learn from it. Too many turnovers. It really was my fault. But I’m going to learn from it.”
Chris Bosh added 22 points and Wade scored 6 of his 14 in overtime, including 3 huge blocks after going over 24 minutes without a field goal; A period that had extended from the 1:50 mark of the second quarter until he made a 19-foot jumper with 2:08 remaining in overtime to extend the Heat’s lead to 91-88. Mike Miller also provided timely baskets in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
“You’re never really in control of a basketball game, especially against guys like that,” said Noah. “It was a fight from the beginning to the end. They made big plays down the stretch, our turnovers hurt us, but right now, it’s frustrating to lose, but there’s still basketball to be played. We have to focus on the next step.”
The Bulls have carried the same approach all season long by taking things one game at a time, not looking behind or ahead them. Now, facing elimination on Thursday, they will try to put their first three-game losing streak of the season behind them and try and extend the series.
“It’s not over,” said Rose. “We still have games to play. We have to stay positive. They are beatable.”