Bulls prevail over Heat in thriller

Bulls prevail over Heat in thriller

The Chicago Bulls overcame the absence of league MVP Derrick Rose to earn a 106-102 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday with third-string point guard John Lucas III scoring 24 points to emerge as an unlikely game winner.

towering over Orlando Magic centre Dwight Howard dunks the ball as San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan looks on during their match on Wednesday. AP

Lucas stung Miami with 11 points in the fourth quarter, including two clinching free throws that set the final score with six seconds left.

“I’m a shooter and they're free throws so they're supposed to go in,” Lucas told reporters after making 9 of 12 shots from the field. “Our captain went down. (It was) time to step up.”

Rose sat out the game due to a groin injury but the Bulls still managed to open up a 3 1/2-game lead over the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 36 points and LeBron James put up 35 but the Heat (31-11) fell behind by 17 in the third quarter and struggled to claw their way back.

Wade erupted for 19 points in the fourth quarter to pull Miami within four points in the final minute, but he missed an important three-pointer and the Bulls ended the game at the free throw line.

“Their second unit came in and provided a spark and took the game over,” James said.

Chicago (36-9) led for virtually the entire game and outrebounded the visitors 50-34 to help them earn a measure of revenge for last year’s loss in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bulls have endured injuries the entire season, but they saw the return of forward Luol Deng and point guard C.J. Watson, who started in place of Rose before giving way to Lucas.  Joakim Noah added 14 points for the Bulls.

Meanwhile, New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni resigned as head coach of the New York Knicks in the midst of a losing skid that has the NBA team battling for a playoff spot.

The Knicks, who were the toast of the NBA last month when unheralded bench player Jeremy Lin inspired a magnificent run, have lost eight of their last 10 games.
"After speaking with Mike this morning, we mutually agreed that it would be best for the organization if he did not continue in his role as coach of the Knicks," team owner Jim Dolan told a news conference.

The announcement came less than 48 hours after the Knicks lost their sixth consecutive game and fell into a tie with the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with an 18-24 record.

Results: Indiana: 111 bt Philadelphia: 94; New Jersey: 98 bt Toronto: 84; NY Knicks: 121 bt Portland: 79; Milwaukee: 115 bt Cleveland: 105; LA Lakers: 107 bt New Orleans: 101; Houston: 107 bt Charlotte: 87; San Antonio: 122 bt Orlando: 111; Chicago: 106 bt Miami: 102; Detroit: 124 bt Sacramento: 112; Boston: 105 bt Golden State: 103; Phoenix: 120 bt Utah: 111; LA Clippers: 96 bt Atlanta: 82.

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