The Miami Heat bounced back in a big way in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, dealing the Chicago Bulls their most lopsided postseason loss in franchise history with an authoritative 115-78 victory at American Airlines Arena.
Held to an uncharacteristic 39.7 percent shooting in a startling 93-86 loss to the injury-plagued Bulls in Monday's opener, Miami evened the set by knocking down an impressive 60 percent of their field goal attempts and having six players score in double figures.
Ray Allen led the way with 21 points in under 19 minutes off the bench, with LeBron James contributing a 19-point, nine-assist effort and Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole pouring in 15 and 18 points, respectively.
"We were able to save this one but we are still in the hole," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra remarked. "They got what they needed, they got one [win]. It doesn't matter what the score was tonight. We have to go into the lion's den on Friday [for Game 3]."
The Heat dominated on the defensive end as well, holding a Chicago team that became unglued in the second half to 35.5 percent performance from the floor and forcing 19 turnovers.
"You have to give them credit," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Heat. "They were more aggressive, more determined. We were back on our heels."
The Bulls were also whistled for 27 fouls, including six technical. Four of them were handed out among forwards Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, resulting in each's ejection early in the fourth quarter.
Miami was whistled for three technical in a matchup that displayed plenty of chippy play on both sides.
"Our guys came in with a strong disposition tonight," said Spoelstra. "I don't think it was necessarily out of hand, other than emotion. I don't think it was physically out of hand. This is going to be a physical series. Nobody is trying to take it over the top. We have our game that we are trying to play. It's tough, it's physical, but it's clean."
Marco Belinelli paced Chicago with 13 points and six assists, with Noah netting 12 points before being tossed.
Chicago stole Game 1 by putting up 35 fourth-quarter points to erase a four- point deficit at the start of the period, but a determined Miami squad made sure no such drama was to take place on this night.
Up by just four with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Heat ended the half on a 13-3 tear and went into the break owning a comfortable 55-41 lead following a pair of 3-pointers from backup point guard Cole.
Miami, which made good on 5-of-7 tries from beyond the arc over the first two frames, then put the contest well out of reach with a dominant third that was highlighted by a back-breaking 11-0 sequence.
Wade accounted for six points during the pivotal flurry, which ended with the Heat ahead by a commanding 75-47 count with four minutes to go in the session. They carried an 85-56 advantage into the fourth quarter after rendering the Bulls into a woeful 4-of-17 success rate from the field for the third.
Miami continued to pour it on, recording the first 12 points of the final phase as the Bulls' frustrations reached the boiling point.
Noah and Gibson were booted for complaining a foul called on teammate Marquis Teague, who made contact with Allen as the veteran drove the lane and scored with 10:13 left to play. After Allen hit the three technical free throws in addition to the and-one, the Heat were standing on a 97-56 lead.
The Heat began to assert themselves midway through the first quarter, putting together a 9-0 run that turned a three-point hole into a 21-15 lead with just under two minutes to go in the period. James had a pair of baskets during the burst, then later capped a 6-for-6 shooting display for the opening stanza with a layup at the buzzer that staked Miami to a 25-20 edge.
Miami shot an impressive 61 percent as a team over the initial frame, and didn't tail off much in the second. The differential reached double digits when Chris Bosh sank a pair of free throws with 7:06 left in the half to make the score 38-28, with the foul shots part of a stretch in which the Bulls didn't record a point for more than three minutes.
Chicago did pull within 42-38 following a 3-point play from Butler 3:42 prior to the intermission, but Wade threw down a dunk on the ensuing possession and James buried a trey shortly afterward to swing the momentum back in Miami's favor.
"We didn't close out the first quarter the way we would have liked, and it snowballed from there," Thibodeau said.
The combined nine technicals assessed were the most in a playoff game since Game 1 of the East semifinals between the Knicks and Pacers on May 7, 1995 ... Miami finished with a 56-18 advantage in points in the paint ... The Heat's Mario Chalmers went 2-for-4 on 3-point attempts and now has 82 makes from beyond the arc in the postseason, breaking a tie he shared with Tim Hardaway for the most in club history ... Miami also lost Game 1 to the Bulls in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, then went on to win the next four meetings ... Chicago played again without a pair of starters in forward Luol Deng (illness) and point guard Kirk Hinrich (calf).