John Lucas Bulls, John Lucas III could feel it as soon as he stepped on the court. Shots were falling and they didn’t stop dropping until the final buzzer.
Good thing, too, since Derrick Rose wasn’t available.
Lucas scored 24 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 106-102 with their star sidelined in a charged showdown between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams Wednesday night.
The Bulls built a 16-point lead in the second quarter, were up 11 at halftime and boosted it back to 17 in the third after a push by the Heat. They then hung on after Miami pulled within two in the closing minute for their 11th win in 12 games even though they were short-handed again.
This time they were without Rose, but they won anyway on a night when Dwyane Wade scored 36 and LeBron James finished with 35 points for the Heat.
“We’re like a brotherhood,” Lucas said. “When one brother goes down, we have their back.”
Rose has now missed 11 games this season. Injuries have limited Richard Hamilton to just 16 games and Deng has missed time because of his injured left wrist, including the previous two games, but the Bulls keep winning.
They beat Miami even though Wade did his best to lift the Heat down the stretch scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter. His jumper with 1:20 left cut it to 100-96, and it stayed that way until Chicago’s Kyle Korver hit two free throws with 17 seconds remaining.
The Heat weren’t finished, though.
James Jones nailed a 3 with 10 seconds left to make it a three point game, and he hit another one with 6.8 seconds to go after Korver buried two more free throws, pulling Miami within 104-102. Lucas then clinched it when he hit two foul shots with 6 seconds remaining, giving the Bulls the win on a night when Rose watched from the sideline with a strained groin.
That had to feel particularly good since the Heat clinched the Eastern Conference championship the last time they visited Chicago.