It’s only March, but Bulls get statement win over Heat


VIDEO: Joakim Noah talks about the Bulls’ win over the Heat

CHICAGO – So spontaneous, so combustible on the basketball court, Joakim Noah was wise not to let anyone light his fuse off it in the postgame dressing room Sunday.

The question was fair if indelicate, coming so soon after the Chicago Bulls’ 95-88 overtime victory against the Miami Heat at United Center: What would Noah say to the people on both sides of the rivalry who might downplay Chicago’s dig-deep triumph, ceding February and March games to the Bulls while reminding them who owns May and June?

“Sounds like a story to me,” Noah said, smiling slightly. “Sounds like an NBA.com story to me.”

But that wasn’t where this particular NBA.com story was headed.

The Bulls deserved the day. They deserved to enjoy their victory over the NBA’s two-time defending champions for what it was: an irrepressible display of passion and resourcefulness (27 second-chance points to Miami’s six), embodied by Noah, with enough context competing on both sides to cancel itself out.

Chicago has gotten the best of Miami in the regular season, by and large, because it plays harder, cares more and still has things to prove that the Heat do not. There is a satisfaction available to them in these games – particularly without Derrick Rose and now absent rivalry regular Luol Deng, too – that isn’t there for Miami.

What the Heat have is the luxury of playing it both ways: Competing hard to win a game such as Sunday’s but then, when they don’t, shrugging and striding out of the UC daring the Bulls to do it to them four times in seven tries over two weeks sometime after Easter. That makes it a no-lose for Miami, which has earned the right to treat the regular season like one really long runway, and something of a no-win for Chicago.

But then you remember the setbacks the Bulls have weathered, losing Rose to a second knee injury three weeks into the season and trading Deng as a pre-emptive “no mas” move in January, and how some wanted them to race toward the NBA’s bottom, chasing down Philadelphia and Milwaukee for prime Draft position. How they had neither man last spring, either – Rose out, Deng hospitalized – when they lost four in a row to the Heat after taking the opener in their East conference semifinals series. How you have to go back to the East finals in 2011 for the Bulls to come at Miami with their preferred crew.

“You look at all the ups and downs we go through,” Chicago forward Taj Gibson said. “We’ve got so many different injuries. We’ve got so many different guys every year. We’ve got new groups of guys but they always seem to buy into what we like to do. … And we just keep flourishing every year.

“It’s one thing we think about all the time: ‘What if? What if? What if we always had guys healthy or that same unit we had a couple years before?” the Bulls’ Sixth Man forward said. “But you can’t look at that. You have to look at who’s out there, who’s on the bench. Whoever we got, we’re gonna roll.”

It took 53 minutes before the Bulls could roll past Miami on Sunday. Noah led, but others – Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich, even newbies like D.J. Augustin and Tony Snell – piled on. Chicago nipped at the Heat’s ankles, banged and bothered LeBron James into 8-for-23 shooting for 17 points and even hauled him down, Butler trading some baseline MMA moves with James in the second quarter.


VIDEO: LeBron James and Jimmy Butler get tangled up in the second quarter

They woofed about the “hate” that bubbles up between these teams whenever they get within 94 feet of each other – hey, the Bulls probably didn’t like it that James, Dwyane Wade and the rest had been hanging around Chicago for two days. And they punked Miami in the five overtime minutes, outscoring them 9-2, outrebounding them by the same numbers and turning nearly every salvaged opportunity into something good.

“We don’t like them,” said Gibson, whose YouTube-able dunk that made it 84-82 with 2:08 left in the fourth quarter took the crowd on a vicarious thrill ride. “You can see how we play. Both teams going at it, Joakim going at it.

“There’s a lot of talking on the floor. A lot of anger. You can tell by the way the fouls are being called and everything. There’s a lot of animosity, there’s a lot of physicality in our teams.”

Everything changes in the playoffs, Chicago knows. James doesn’t play 45 minutes without shooting a free throw in May or June, most likely. Or he switches onto Rose defensively and changes every angle for the point guard. At that time of year, Chris Bosh or Ray Allen hit 3-pointers that break backs, not merely post points.

But just because Noah’s 20 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and nonstop pestering of all things Miami came in March doesn’t mean it didn’t matter or barely even happened.

“Dominant,” Gibson said of Noah’s performance. “He was talking trash to them the whole night. He was in there letting it be known he was going after every rebound, he was going to try to score every time he gets it. He was really tellin’ ‘em everything he was going to do. I could see it in their faces – he was frustratin’ ‘em.”

This was a case of two teams being right – the Bulls in huffing and puffing to seize what they can when they can, and the Heat in knowing that their own itches won’t be scratched until much later. Even Noah knows that. He could chuckle Sunday as he heard himself proclaim “a lot of hate” for Miami, though what he was talking about sounded more like envy. Envy for having an MVP who is more grit and gristle than gauze and bandages. Envy for the rings. Envy for how Miami ends its (and everybody else’s) seasons.

“Those guys ended our seasons a lot, so I think that’s where the hate comes from,” Noah said. “It’s not like ‘Oh, I hate this guy.’ I want what they have. I want a championship. And I know to get there one day, we’re going to have to get through those guys. That’s the hatred.

“I can’t wait till our whole unit comes back. Cause we know we have another level when that boy [Rose] comes back. We’re hungry, we’re a hungry group. That’s all I want. … One day, I want to party in Chicago and see what that feels like. One day.”

Sunday wasn’t that day, but in the meantime, it would do.


VIDEO: Bulls.com recaps Chicago’s big win over the Miami Hea

40 Comments

  1. Let's go Heat! says:

    Win the Heat in one regular season game = statement win? Are u serious? Let’s see which team is better in playoff?

  2. carlos says:

    the bulls are joakim noahs team!!! beast

  3. BadAd says:

    hahaha stupid bulls fans

  4. Rhedz says:

    Noah and the bulls are awesome..trash talking is a actually i could say at some point needed in the game..either to fire ones spirit or the whole team itself or simply just annoying the opposing team so they loose their composure. Its a good dirty strategy that works efficiently. Much respect to thibs and the bulls crew for putting hard work on their games…but again, hard work doesnt always beat talent. Heat team have both..hard work and talent…bulss have hard work…abit of talent…but nonetheless…bulls and heat would be a nice match up in east finals..but i would really want to see pacers and heat.

  5. aa says:

    I think its time to count Noah as one of the top players in the league, he is just killing it for the bulls, and he does everything well.

  6. Alldmbbbafficionados says:

    I can’t wait Noah gets a championship. How arrogant he is not even get a ring. (NBA). How much more when he get it. All the talks (mocking & degrading others) will be his.

  7. Kurisu says:

    At the end of the day, it’s always about winning the championship. PERIOD!

  8. okc2014 says:

    I thought it was a great game, very high intensity. Chicago needed that win for their egos. And I was tickled to hear Lebron James say in the post game interview something like “They are our Rivals?’ As if to imply that the Chicago Bulls are fooling themselves. LOL.

  9. ricz says:

    Well good to see that bulls still haz it
    But they need a healthy line up if they want to defeat miami in play-off

    But overall I think they are consistent even w/ those injuries and trade…. Indiana vs Miami? lol I think it’s safe to say that it Chicago vs Miami… ofc Miami will win it… tnx ref/NBA staff …. moar money for three peat :C

  10. GoCharles says:

    LBJ is disappointed with the refs yesterday as they didn’t favor him as always. Stern must hear about this.

  11. LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

    everyone knows they beat the heat this time because the heat were spent. serves lebron for trying to get those 61 points. he had nothing to prove in that game with the cats. then he was exhausted and that’s why they been losing.

  12. LOLregularseason says:

    I love how the bulls excite themselves every time they beat the heat in the regular season, I have seen that for the past 2-3 seasons. But when it comes to the most important part of the game, which is the PLAYOFFS, their tears are always shed. Poor Bulls.

    I hope someday these bulls can get past Lebron in playoffs. I mean, come on, even since Cleveland days, with D-Rose, they couldn’t even get past him. And note, I am even a D-Rose fan. But fact is fact, Their hate came from the real fact that they just cannot get past (not just the heat) Lebron James!

  13. Francisco says:

    Noah basket with 0.9 was a gift from refs, come on, you get the ball , it goes up you get it back and shoot. Chicago way

  14. Art says:

    Why James didn’t receive foul for pulling Butler down?
    Butler’s foot touched James face by accident and actually LeBron forced this move.
    But James intentionally gave Butler’s face a shove with his left forearm as he got back to his feet.
    Why LeBron is not suspended for that?

  15. Leo says:

    Anything a very good defender on James in the dying moments of the game James chokes. I only hope that this bulls group stays healthy and get back Derrick with about 10 reg season games to go before playoff so we can see who is who out east.

  16. LeBron should not have held back Jimmy like he did. When people wonder where the hatred comes from, that’s where. And Jimmy didn’t even complain about it. If someone had held LeBron back he would have flopped, first of all, and then proceeded to complain to the ref.

  17. Pete says:

    A note to K. The Heat are two NBA champions not “world champions”. The NBA is not a global league.

    • Steve says:

      Its common knowledge that the NBA is the best basketball talent in the world…so yes they are the world champions….have you not watched an Olympics!!!!!

  18. IHateChicagoBulls says:

    Bulls are garbage

  19. K says:

    Great regular-season win for the Bulls! They deserved to when because they completely out competed Miami! However, let’s keep things in there proper perspective, until Chicago proves they can get past the two time World Champion Miami Heat during the money part of the NBA season (the PLAYOFFS) all these regular – season wins will mean absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. Noah’s hatred for the Heat comes from his wanting what the Heat has, A CHAMPIONSHIP!

  20. celentano says:

    ‘Mr Lefake’ the overhyped nba player ever playing around these days comming up short,he got some good defence finaly and even one on one he wasn’t that great at all! But we all know at that time around play offs he gonna get that typical Nba ref’s protection with tons of free throws to help them winning the game,So predictable these days!

  21. #BullsFAnDAN says:

    Great stop by Jimmy Butler. Big game from Jo. That is how we play #ChicagoBasketball In a fair game the Bulls beat the heat everytime. Go Bulls!

  22. marty says:

    Gotta prove u can beat the heat in a series.Statment? not the first time this has happened but why not crown the bulls today?

  23. thespectator says:

    year after year same result, chicago beat miami in the regular season, but when it counts, aka playoffs, bulls are just no where to be found…got 2 postseasons of proof to back it up

    • RT says:

      Nonsense. It happened once – in 2010-11 the Heat beat the full Bulls squad and then lost to the Mavs. The following season, the Bulls lost Rose in the first game of the postseason and lost Noah in the middle of the first round and were eliminated by Philly. No postseason matchup with the Heat. Last season, the Bulls were obviously playing without Rose, and they lost Deng and Hinrich during the Nets series so they were basically playing the Heat with Noah, who had plantar fasciitis. So, no duh, they were eliminated. So, if the “same story” you’re referring to is that the Bulls have been hit with a lot of injuries the past few years, then yes, that’s true. If you’re claiming that the “same story” is that the Bulls aren’t good enough, you’re basing that off of no valid evidence besides 2010-11.

    • laker says:

      one reason…not enough offensive weapons…playoffs whole different story..

  24. krishawn-MIA says:

    The idea came from the truth, as much as we hate to admit it the guy really is doin things we don’t see, but I do agree with u on the mj punishin his opponents and you have to be able to play one on one that’s something he needs to work on definitely and something mj flourishes at but to be the greatest we need to establish a lane as to what to look at one on one skills or team play? Because they’re the best at the two lanes, and the mj scoring 50 at w.e age is irrelevant btw

  25. marlon green says:

    I couldn’t believe that game yesterday. I think those refs are going to get in trouble since they didn’t favor Lebron and he didn’t get his free throws like he normally does. And his field goal percentage wasn’t great again and he had all the movement in the world with his arms to shoot yesterday. Great job bulls.

  26. Jose says:

    I meant, not just being a team player. the media needs to call it how it is. lebron is just a great team player who’s athletic and needs help to score, jordan had it all, he would talk trash and back it up. it’s being a show off but hey that’s good he was

    • krishawn-MIA says:

      Idk wtf you’re trying to say but doesn’t everyone needs help to score???!!!! No one player scores all the points!!!! Wilt score 100 and still didn’t score all the points, like what are we lookin for in the best bbal player one on one or best team player????

  27. Jose says:

    I don’t where the whole idea of lebron possibly being better than MJ came from, it clearly shows that MJ had the finesse, style and arsenal of moves. jordan punished his opponents, and he’s the oldest player to ever score 50, enough said. It’s all media hype and people believe it like a bunch of idiots lol to be the greatest you have to be able to play ONE ON ONE basketball when it’s needed, not just being a team baskeball

    • chalice says:

      At this stage, I do agree that MJ is better than Lebron, however I don’t agree that u have to be the best one-on one player to be the GOAT. Team success is very important to be the greatest of all time, otherwise you just give the GOAT title to the scoring champ. Lebron does have some issues with crunch time (see game 6 of finals last year) but he will get everyone involved so he doesn’t have to go one-on-one. In fact, what made MJ so great is his 72-10 season (which is about team success). MJ still is the greatest but Lebron does have a chance to chase down history.

      • Me says:

        Sorry but what? “Lebron does have some issues with crunch time (see game 6 of finals last year”, I remember Lebron hitting the 3 pointer with 15 seconds left the put Miami in position to tie the game. I remember Chris Bosh kicking it out to Ray Allen for the tie. Lebron was calling for the ball but wasn’t in Bosh’s line of sight. He isn’t shying away from the big plays. Stop worrying about who is better now between Lebron and Jordan. They play in two different eras in 2 different positions, comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. When the dust settles they will both go down as greats.

  28. Faba says:

    Steve Ashburner is so biased, saying that miami can shrug it off because of the playoffs and that for Chicago its a no-win situation. It did mean a lot to miami there is no deny. Lebron choked in the clutch like always his only hope in the playoffs are that wade´s knees hold up and that there is Ray allen around to save his Mount Rushmore dreams.
    But i have to admit Steve is totaly right there is no way Lebron plays in the playoffs without shooting at least 10 Free Throws a game. The refs won´t allow hard and clean defense against Lebron… not in the playoffs because we all know the NBA plans the three peat for Lebron.

  29. Jimmy Buckets says:

    LBJ crying over fouls while the bulls run a 5 on 4 the other way and score…..that is a great reason why Lebron is NOT and never will be defensive player of the year so he needs to shut up about it. Butler comes up with a big defensive stop AGAIN. LBJ has nightmares about Chicago.