Miami, FL (Sports Network) – LeBron James led all scorers with 35 points and shut down Derrick Rose with the game on the line in regulation, as the Miami Heat pulled out a 101-93 overtime victory in Game 4 to take total control of the Eastern Conference finals.
Chris Bosh dropped in 22 points and Dwyane Wade made up for a quiet scoring night with two blocks in OT for Miami, which is one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals in the first year of its roster upheaval.
"We’re going to try to play as desperate as we’ve played the last three games," James said. "We’re not taking anything for granted."
Miami has won a franchise-record nine straight home postseason games dating back to last season.
Chicago, touted as the team with more depth coming into the series, used its starters extensively in the must-win game.
Rose, in particular, appeared to have tired legs when it mattered most, making just one field goal after the third-quarter buzzer. Rose’s line saw him score 23 points, hand out six assists and commit seven of the team’s 22 turnovers.
"It’s not over. We still have games to play," said Rose, whose club was coming off consecutive double-digit losses after rolling to a 21-point victory in Game 1. "They are beatable."
For the first time this season, the Bulls have lost three in a row, though they nearly evened the series in the final minute of the fourth.
Rose had the ball with the game tied, 85-85, but James played perfect defense and forced the league’s MVP into a stepback jumper that rolled off the rim.
James was whistled for an offensive foul when he tried backing down Ronnie Brewer on the right wing, jabbing an elbow up high into the defender.
The Bulls called timeout with eight seconds left, and the result was the same as their previous possession, with James locking down on Rose and causing an airball from 17 feet.
Bosh put in the extra period’s first points at the free throw line, after he missed a dunk while getting fouled with 3:23 remaining.
After Carlos Boozer missed inside, Bosh got open off an inbounds play at the top of the key and canned a jumper for an 89-85 lead.
Chicago had some fight left, as Rose drove the baseline to open up Brewer for a much-needed make from behind the arc.
Wade answered with his first points after halftime with a baseline jumper, and Boozer went 1-of-2 from the line prior to James getting a left-handed scoop to drop for a 93-89 cushion with 1:36 to play.
Luol Deng, who along with Boozer netted 20 points, threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Rose turned it over the next time down. Wade’s driving score and block on Deng sealed the tough victory and put Miami on the brink of its first NBA Finals appearance since 2006, when they defeated Dallas for the title.
"This series is an absolute bloodbath. This game was a grind," Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It’s challenging for any team to get into an offensive flow. It’s as competitive and physical as it can be. But it was about enduing and making whatever game-saving plays we needed to."
Both teams struggled offensively in the opening quarter. Wade bricked a fastbreak dunk early on and James missed four straight shots on one possession to exemplify Miami’s woes.
The Bulls scored on four straight touches at one point, going on top, 19-8, on Brewer’s reverse layup, then went scoreless in the final four minutes when they began settling for three-pointers.
Miami inched within 19-16, tied the game on Bosh’s three-point play on the first possession of the second quarter and went ahead on Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer the next time down.
Wade’s acrobatic layup near the midway point gave the Heat their biggest lead at the time, 37-28, only to have the Bulls respond with 15 of the next 20 points to take the lead right back.
Rose, after missing 10 of his first 12 shots, capped the stretch with two thunderous dunks while being fouled, the last a two-handed slam over Joel Anthony.
Chicago scored nine straight points in the early stages of the third, with Rose’s jumper yielding a 57-48 advantage.
With Wade on the bench, James turned up his game late in the third quarter, scoring six straight to pull Miami within 65-63 on a dunk over a retreating Deng in the final minute.
Rose’s three-pointer gave the Bulls a five-point lead heading to the fourth, but Miami took its first lead of the second half, 70-69, on Miller’s long jumper two minutes into the final stanza.
That was the first of seven lead changes in the fourth, the last coming when Bosh’s baseline jumper gave the Heat an 85-84 lead with 1:14 to go.
Rose had an open lane closed up by three defenders and was fouled. He missed the first and rattled in the second for the quarter’s fifth tie.
Wade was too hard off the glass on a shot in the lane prior to James coming through on the defensive end in the final minute.
"I think you learn from each game. Hopefully we can study, learn, correct, grow and get ready for the next one," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Wade ended with 14 points…Joakim Noah, fined $50,000 by the league after hurling an anti-gay slur to a fan during the first quarter of Game 3, pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds…Miller and Udonis Haslem each had nine boards for the Heat…Miami outscored Chicago at the free throw line, 32-17…The Bulls had 44 points in the paint to Miami’s 24…Miami has taken one of the previous five postseason meetings between the teams, with its lone victory coming in the first rebound of its ’06 championship run.