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(Thursday, December 5th)
Final Score: Chicago 107, Miami 87
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Joakim Noah recorded 17 points and 15 rebounds and Carlos Boozer added 27 and nine as the Chicago Bulls pounded the Miami Heat, 107-87, at the United Center.
Luol Deng made four of Chicago's 10 3-pointers in another 20-point performance, and Taj Gibson came off the bench and contributed 19 points in the surprisingly easy win.
The Bulls, who were coming off their first home loss of the season and had dropped six of their previous seven, made half of their shots and held the Heat to 17 points below their season average.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks, but it feels good to win," Noah said.
Miami was abused down low for the second straight game, getting outrebounded by a 49-27 margin while allowing 24 second-chance points.
LeBron James had a team-high 21 points but no other Heat player really stepped up in the absence of Dwyane Wade.
"We didn't step up to the challenge," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted. "We have to own it. That's the first part. The answer has to come from that locker room."
The Bulls received a glimmer of hope hours before the game when Derrick Rose, in his first public appearance since undergoing surgery on his torn right meniscus, did not completely rule out a return for the postseason.
The rest of the team gave the Chicago fan base every reason to believe it will be back in the postseason with Thursday's performance. The Bulls never trailed after tying the game at 6-6 just 2:30 into the game.
Deng drained a 3-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer to give the Bulls a 29-20 cushion, then hit another from long range early in the second for a 36-24 Chicago cushion.
A 9-0 run later in the quarter pushed the Bulls' lead to 45-28, and it was a 58-44 game in Chicago's favor at the break.
There were apparently no adjustments at halftime for Miami, as the third quarter played out much the same way the first half did.
Chicago held a comfortable 72-47 advantage following a Tony Snell 3-pointer 3:09 into the third, which ended with the hosts sporting an 85-63 lead.
With James on the bench, the Heat cut their deficit to as low as 12 with 5 1/2 minutes to play, but Chicago scored the next seven points to ice things.
Miami upended the Bulls, 107-95, in the season opener for both teams ... The Heat had their 10-game winning steak snapped by Detroit on Tuesday ... Chicago improved to 6-1 at home ... Wade saw out for the second straight game, this time because of an illness ... Deng has scored 20 or more points in six straight games ... Miami had a five-game road winning streak snapped.
12/06 01:47:20 ET