The Chicago Bulls needed C.J. Watson's three with 2.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter to push their Thursday night showdown with the Miami Heat to overtime. They didn't need a whole lot to win in the extra period: the Bulls held Miami to just two points in overtime in a 96-86 win.
Chicago opened the overtime period with five points in the first 44 seconds, and held the Heat scoreless from the field. Five Bulls scored in double figures, led by Carlos Boozer's 19 points, and that depth more than made up for possibly Derrick Rose's worst game as a professional, in which he scored a career-low two points on 1-for-13 shooting and dished eight assists.
LeBron James had 30 points to lead all scorers, and added six rebounds and five assists, but he also missed a free throw late in the fourth quarter that could have extended the Heat's lead to four points. And while Dwyane Wade had 20 points, and Chris Bosh had 21, no other Heat player had more than four.
The win gives the Bulls a four-game advantage on the Heat in the race for home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
The Miami Heat appeared to be on the brink of getting one of their biggest wins of the 2011-12 season, thanks to clutch play by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Then, C.J. Watson hit a game-tying three with 2.2 seconds left to send the Chicago Bulls and the Heat to overtime tied at 84-84.
After a couple of shots by Kyle Korver gave the Bulls a late lead, Dwyane Wade hit three improbable jumpers to pull the Heat to within a point. Then James, so often belittled for coming up short in crucial moments, sank a corner three to give the Heat the lead, and added a free throw to extend it to three points.
It wasn't enough: The Bulls found Watson as a last resort on a play designed for Korver, and the guard avoided Wade's closeout and kept his feet behind the line before making his three to tie the game.
Wade's last-second fadeaway failed to hit its mark, sending the two teams to overtime.
The Chicago Bulls looked to have the upper-hand just before halftime, recovering from a slow start to take a 36-29 lead over the Miami Heat with time winding down in the second quarter. All was well, until the Heat poured it on, scoring the next 12 points to take a 41-36 lead into the break. Chicago went ice cold over the final four and a half minutes, failing to score a point after Carlos Boozer's jumper with 4:33 to go.
As the Bulls struggled, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took over, with the latter closing out the quarter by scoring the final five points. James scored 14 points in the half, leading the way for the Heat. Bosh was also in double-figures, adding 10 points. Wade put up six points in the half.
Derrick Rose made his return to the lineup after tweaking an ankle on Sunday, but struggled to find a rhythm. In 14 minutes, Rose did not score a point, going 0-for-5 from the field. He did, however, tally five assists.
Boozer led the way for the Bulls with 13 points in the half. The rest of the production came from the bench, with C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver each adding six points.
Derrick Rose went through shootaround and warmed up ahead of Thursday night's matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, testing his injured ankle along the way. Rose went down with the injury in Chicago's loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon and has been hobbled since, sitting out the Bulls' victory in their rematch with New York on Tuesday night. But with the Bulls set to face the Heat in the marquee matchup on Thursday night, Chicago fans were hopeful the reigning MVP would be able to quickly bounce back.
Luckily for them, Rose is ready to go. ESPN's Brian Windhorst, among others, reports Rose is back in the starting lineup again.
Derrick Rose officially slated to start for Bulls vs. Heat tonight.
Rose had been in a walking boot, likely as a precaution, following Sunday's game. And with the Bulls still fighting the Heat for the top seed in the playoffs, his services will certainly be necessary on Thursday night.