CHICAGO – John Lucas III scored 24 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 106-102 without Derrick Rose in a charged showdown between the Eastern Conference's top two teams on Wednesday.
The Bulls built a 16-point lead in the second quarter, were up 11 at halftime and boosted it back to 17 in the third after a push by Miami. They then hung on after Miami closed within two in the closing minute for their 11th win in 12 games. Even better, they won without their superstar, and they did it on a night when Dwyane Wade scored 36 and LeBron James finished with 35 points for Miami.
Wade did his best to lift the Heat down the stretch scoring 19 points over the fourth quarter. His jumper with 1:20 left cut it to 100-96, and it stayed that way until Chicago's Kyle Korver hit two free throws with 17 seconds remaining.
The Heat weren't finished, though.
James Jones nailed a 3 with 10 seconds left to make it a three point game, and he hit another one with 6.8 seconds to go after Korver buried two more free throws, pulling Miami within 104-102. Lucas then clinched it when he hit two foul shots with six seconds remaining, giving the Bulls the win on a night when Rose watched from the sideline with a strained groin.
That had to feel particularly good since the Heat clinched the Eastern Conference championship the last time they visited Chicago.
Lucas III provided a huge spark off the bench, missing his previous career-high by one point, and led six Bulls in double figures.
While Wade and James dominated, Chris Bosh struggled in a big way for the Heat. He scored 12 but was just 3 of 15 from the field as Miami lost again after falling to Orlando the previous night.
Notes: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra indicated Miami won't be too active before Thursday's trade deadline. "Our focus is on this group," he said. "We feel we have enough." ... Heat F Mike Miller missed his second straight game because of a sprained left ankle, and Spoelstra said there's no timetable for his return. ... The Bulls signed veteran guard Mike James to a 10-day contract.