Miami makes life difficult for Bulls in the paint
MIAMI -- Inside the Bulls locker room, the players were clearing out and the media was gone, for the most part.
Guard Ronnie Brewer, meanwhile, was talking nonstop to teammate Joakim Noah about defensive assignments and how to handle the Heat's three-star lineup.
The Bulls have dropped consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 5 and 7, but they can still even the Eastern Conference finals with a win on Tuesday in Game 4.
"We will watch the film," Noah said. "We made a lot of mistakes tonight. I'm really disappointed about the way I played tonight. It's a tough loss, but we have a couple days to get it back. We are excited about the opportunity to play Tuesday."
These last two games haven't really been about finding a way to stop Miami's Power Trio, although it would have helped the cause if the Bulls had forced Chris Bosh to miss more than 5 shots on his way to 34 points.
When the free-agent talent opted for South Beach last summer, the Bulls could take optimism in the idea that Miami's biggest weakness matched their strength. The Heat was expected to struggle inside with Joel Anthony and a cast of aging centers to protect the paint.
In these 2 Miami victories, the Bulls haven't taken advantage. Carlos Boozer had a big night Sunday, with 26 points and 17 rebounds, but Bosh scored more.
The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 41-32 and won the second-chance points, as usual. But they hit just 18 of 46 shots (39.1 percent) from inside the paint.
Anthony was credited with 4 blocks in the first quarter, 5 for the game. With the Bulls trailing by 8 midway through the fourth quarter and struggling to stay in the contest, Noah and Boozer both missed at close range.
"We just keep plowing forward," Boozer said. "We feel like we had a chance to win the last two games. We are not frustrated to the point where we will not keep fighting. That's not our character. We are a tough-minded team, tough group of guys and, trust me, we will be right back at it in Game 4."
Noah finished with 1 point, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 fouls Sunday. Taj Gibson scored 11 points in just over 12 minutes of action. Center Omer Asik left with a muscle strain in his left leg in the third quarter and didn't return.
Coach Tom Thibodeau couldn't use his preferred fourth-quarter defensive lineup with Asik, Gibson and Brewer playing with Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. Miami scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, its second-highest total of the series.
There were reports that Noah was caught on camera using a derogatory term toward a fan as he walked off the court.
"I got caught up," Noah said. "A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize. I just got caught up."