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Heat Bounce Back With D; Even Series With Bulls 85-75

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - LeBron James scored nine of his 29 points in the closing minutes, but it was the Heat's defense that allowed them to beat the Bulls, 85-75, and even their Eastern Conference Finals series.

Miami limited Chicago to just two points in the final seven minutes, closing the game on a 12-2 run overall. And the Bulls' only points in that stretch came on a well contested layup by Taj Gibson.

The suffocating effort sits in stark contrast to the series opener three days ago, when Chicago ended the game on a 46-24 run to come away with a 103-82 victory. It also puts Miami in position to grab the series advantage Sunday at home in Game 3.

James pulled down 10 rebounds while Dwyane Wade had 24 points and nine boards for the Heat, markedly better performances than Game 1, when they combined for 33 points.

"They respond and often play their best when their back is against the wall, under adversity," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.

Miami also got 13 points and five rebounds off the bench from Udonis Haslem, who played for just over 23 minutes in his biggest performance of the postseason.

Derrick Rose had 21 points, eight assists and six boards for the Bulls, but made just seven of his 23 shots -- shots he said he would normally make.

"I think I was just missing shots or flipping the ball up, not going strong (to the basket)," Rose said. "It was just one of those nights."

However, it was also Miami's defense, which played a big part in limiting the MVP to just two points in the fourth quarter.

As lopsided as the final result was, Chicago was still in the game with 7:16 to go, when Gibson dunked to make it a 73-73 game. But the final result also was an indication of how dominant the Heat were down the stretch.

After a series of missed shots, James broke the deadlock with a three-pointer, then used a pump-fake to knock down a jumper from the right elbow with 3:15 on the clock.

Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver had a three-pointer rim out at the other end, and after James was called for traveling, Gibson was credited with a layup. He went up for the basket against three Miami defenders, and the ball appeared to drop through the netting after it hit the back of Joel Anthony's hand.

It pulled Chicago within a possession, but the Bulls didn't score the rest of the game against Miami's defense.

Luol Deng drove toward the right side of the basket before James knocked the ball away, giving the Heat a chance to put the game away. James took advantage, grabbing his own rebound to knock down a short put-back jumper and extend Miami's lead to 82-75.

After Wade blocked Rose's jumper, James secured the victory with a fall-away from just above the foul line with 47.3 seconds to go.

"You've got to give them credit, their defense was outstanding," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "They fought us; their ball pressure was great."

The Bulls held the lead after the first quarter despite missing a number of shots early. They grabbed seven offensive rebounds to generate some second chances, and also had success penetrating the paint late in the period.

Deng closed the quarter by drilling a shot from several yards beyond halfcourt, making it a 26-19 game.

But the Heat closed the gap shortly into the second quarter, when they scored six points in less than a minute. Wade had four, including a dunk off an alley-oop from James to tie the contest at 32.

Miami carried a 48-46 edge into the break, then built its lead up to 11 in the third quarter after having success in the paint. The Heat brought a 71-65 advantage into the fourth quarter, but it quickly disappeared after Gibson opened the period with a pair of jumpers.

Neither team shot well from three-point range. Chicago made 3-of-20 from beyond the arc, while Miami was 3-of-13...The Bulls made 34 percent of their shots overall...Deng finished with 13 points...Haslem, who missed most of the regular season with a foot injury, hadn't played more than 4:12 in two previous games during the playoffs...Chris Bosh had 10 points and eight boards for Miami.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.