The Miami Heat recorded their most lopsided playoff win in franchise history and inflicted the heaviest such defeat on Chicago by beating the Bulls 115-78 on Wednesday, squaring their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series 1-1.
Nine technical fouls, two ejections and a lot of pushing and shoving also injected some venom into the series, as the Heat turned what was a close game in the first half into a blowout.
In Wednesday’s other game, the Golden State Warriors withstood a big comeback from San Antonio to beat the Spurs 100-91 and also square their series.
The second half in Miami was embarrassing for the Bulls. The Heat led 42-38 with 3:42 left in the first half, before going on a remarkable 62-20 run.
Miami’s Ray Allen scored 21 points in only 19 minutes, LeBron James finished with 19 points and nine assists, and the Heat led by as many as 46 points.
The Heat lost home-court advantage when they dropped Game 1, but Wednesday’s domination made the reigning NBA champions look like the clear-cut team to beat in this title race once again.
“No matter if you win by 20, 30, or one point, it’s a 1-1 series,” Heat’s LeBron James said.
“They came in and did their job. They got one on our floor and took home court. So we’ve got to try to go to Chicago and get it back.”
Game 3 is Friday in Chicago, where the Heat will have to win at least one game if they’re going to win the series.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected in the fourth quarter for Chicago, and the league will almost certainly review some of the things said and done in a game that was close for the first 20 minutes. The Bulls were called for six player technicals, the most by any team in a playoff game since Boston had that many against Indiana in 2005.
“We got sidetracked and you can’t do that,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“We allowed frustration to carry over to the next play. … You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. That’s reality.”
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer, who scored only eight points, said he didn’t fault his teammates for speaking their minds – although cameras suggested that Gibson’s language was more than a little colourful.
“Things don’t go your way, you’re competitors, you want to go out there and do everything you can when you feel you’re being cheated,” Boozer said.
“You’re going to say something about it. But regardless we don’t place the blame on anybody else, we put it on our shoulders and we’ll play better.”
Marco Belinelli scored 13 for the Bulls, who got 12 from Noah and 11 from Robinson.
Golden State’s Klay Thompson scored 34 points to lead his team to a series-squaring road victory over San Antonio.
Thompson, who scored 29 points in the first half, added 14 rebounds for Golden State, who snapped a 30-game losing streak in the Alamo City. The Warriors had not won in San Antonio since February 14, 1997.
Stephen Curry added 22 for the visitors, while Harrison Barnes had 13 points, Carl Landry 10 and Andrew Bogut had six points and 11 rebounds.
Tim Duncan scored 23 points and Tony Parker added 20 for San Antonio. Manu Ginobili had 12 points and Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Warriors host Game 3 on Friday.