MIAMI, FL - MARCH 06: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on March 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NBA Scores And More: Heat Crumble (Again) As Bulls Win; Lakers Smack Spurs

Would you believe the Heat's stars again missed an opportunity to win a close game against a good opponent late? They did! In other action, the Lakers pounded the Spurs without mercy, and Amar'e Stoudemire carried the Knicks over the Hawks.

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Bulls Vs. Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Crumble At The Close (Again)

In what is quickly becoming something between self-parody and performance art, the Miami Heat lost another close game to a great opponent, dropping Sunday's matinee against the Chicago Bulls 87-86. The Heat had two chances to win the game in the final five seconds; Miami was a league-worst 1-14 on game-tying or go-ahead shots inside of 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime coming into the game. They are now 1-16.

That'd be a tough lay-up that LeBron James can't make and a turnaround baseline jumper Dywane Wade can't hit. Anyone can see that those are tough shots, even ignoring the score and the time on the clock. Those are tough shots. That begs the question: why can't players this good, a team this talented get better shots at the end of games? I mean, you have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and we're still doin' the old Mike Brown vintage high pick-and-roll to get a switch? We're still counting on the referees to blow that whistle with seconds left?

It didn't happen, and the Heat were lucky to get a second opportunity, because this team is usually terrible on the offensive glass. That's because Chris Bosh has become one of the team's more reliable shooters, so he hangs out at the elbow extended much of the time. The Heat's second big man is never that good, leaving the offensive glass the responsibility of LeBron and Wade, who have a responsibility to get back on defense.

The late game anti-heroics shouldn't mask the wonderful performances from Derrick Rose (27 points, 12-23 shooting) and Luol Deng (18 on 7-15). Deng, in particular, has been the unsung hero of this marvelous Bulls team, and deserves that first-team All Defense spot that'd normally be reserved for LeBron. He's been superb (even though LeBron has too, frankly).

The Bulls now have two fewer losses than the Heat, and Miami is 0-4 on their rollicking 11-game spell against good teams. The Blazers visit on Tuesday, but you'll be forgiven if you look ahead to Thursday's match-up with the suddenly hot Lakers.


Lakers Vs. Spurs: Behind Kobe Bryant, Champs Knock Out San Antonio Early

The San Antonio Spurs are usually the team rolling out to an early 20-point lead by being more clinical and sharp than their opponent. That wasn't the case Sunday, when an early surge from the Los Angeles Lakers effectively knocked the Spurs out in the first quarter on the champs' way to a 99-83 victory. L.A. outscored the Spurs 34-13 in the first quarter. The Spurs simply don't give up 34 points in a quarter, and simply don't score as few as 13 points in a quarter. That both happened in the same quarter at home against a rival the Spurs would like to bludgeon with a dull object is something amazing.

The early offense came from Kobe Bryant, who scored eight on 4-9 shooting in the first quarter. More important were his three assists -- he found Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Ron Artest free, and Gasol scored seven in the first quarter, while Fisher and Artest had five each. The Spurs are trained not to allow multiple opposing players to get hot, but all of the Lakers were scoring early in this one.

Meanwhile, only Tony Parker had his offense on track early for the Spurs. He scored six points on 3-6 shooting in the first quarter as San Antonio shot 6-22 overall. It didn't get a whole lot better from there -- the Spurs finished the game shooting 36 percent from the floor, with the second unit dropping 31 in the fourth to make things somewhat respectable-ish.

The Spurs are now 2-1 against the Lakers this season. The teams don't meet again until the final week of the season. San Antonio is up seven in the loss column on the Lakers.


Knicks Vs. Hawks: Amar'e Stoudemire Carries Load In New York Win

Amar'e Stoudemire carried the load with 26 points as the New York Knicks knocked off the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on Sunday. The win moved the Knicks to within three games in the loss column behind Atlanta for the No. 5 seed in the East and a likely first-round date with the Orlando Magic. The No. 6 team would likely play the Celtics, Bulls or Heat.

Carmelo Anthony had a rough go against Marvin Williams and Josh Smith, shooting just 6-18 for 14 points. But he also had seven assists and seven rebounds, and the Knicks' supplemental players -- injured Chauncey Billups excluded -- picked up the slack. Notably, Anthony was on the bench during the 19-2 fourth quarter run that decided the game. Stoudemire led the Knicks to their biggest fourth quarter lead with Landry Fields, Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams and the unforgettable Roger Mason Jr. on the court.

The Hawks kept it close until that one, and despite Atlanta's fans being outnumbered about three to two. Al Horford was surprisingly ineffective with just four points, seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes; he should be eating defenses like the Knicks alive, spitting them out, and eating them again. Instead, he struggled to stay in front of Stoudemire, and couldn't punish Amar'e on the other end.


Hornets Vs. Cavaliers: Chris Paul Concussion Leaves New Orleans Thinking About Something Other Than Win

The New Hornets ended a bad run by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-82 on Sunday, but they won't be celebrating any time soon as star point guard Chris Paul was knocked out of the game with a concussion bad enough to require a stretcher and an ambulance ride. The injury came on an awkward collision with Cavs guard Ramon Sessions; this would the second team in a little more than a month we've seen collisions lead to immobile players, as Marquis Daniels was knocked out of a Celtics game in February after his head collided with Gilbert Arenas.

CP3 has been ruled out of Monday's game against the Chicago Bulls, and despite the fact that New Orleans is in a playoff chase, you have to figure the Hornets will be ultra-careful with Paul going forward. The NFL's struggles to understand and manage concussions has opened eyes around the country, and the NBA likely understands how seriously head injuries must be taken at this point.

David West scored 23 for the Hornets. Paul had 13 points and 11 assists before his injury.

In other action:

Celtics 89, Bucks 83: Milwaukee's familiar trouble on offense was exacerbated by a Boston defense that doesn't suffer when Doc Rivers' bench is shallow. That just means more minutes for Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo! Brandon Jennings shot 8-19 for 23 points in the loss.

Grizzlies 104, Mavericks 103: In perhaps the best game of the day once Bulls-Heat ended, the Grizzlies edged Dallas by a point on a long baseline jumper by Zach Randolph with less than a second remaining.

Lionel Hollins makes an interesting call there: he chooses to play for a (relatively) open look instead of an easier, more-contested shot. Baseline extended isn't a natural spot for Randolph. And Dallas ends up defending it well ... but it goes in. Basketball is weird.

Thunder 122, Suns 118: The Thunder needed overtime to put away the Suns, who lost Channing Frye to a dislocated shoulder in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant shot just 3-14, but Russell Westbrook had 32 points on 9-18 shooting and James Harden scored 26 on 8-12 shooting off the bench. Vince Carter had 29, and hit 6-12 on three-pointers.

76ers 125, Warriors 117: Just weeks ago, Philadelphia was winning games 80-77. What happened? Well, the Warriors can cajole any opponent to boost their own offense by multiples of 12 -- Golden State's defense is just that bad. How else do you explain 20 points by Evan Turner? Monta Ellis nailed a three near the end of regulation to send this baby to overtime, but Philadelphia prevailed.

Pistons 113, Wizards 102: Who knew that the Wizards would look substantially worse with Kirk Hinrich? Actually, Washington is dealing with emotional issues, as Flip Saunders' mother died last week; it's easy to come out flat when something like that is going on.

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