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News » Can't close the deal

Can't close the deal

Can't close the dealAlthough the regular season is merely three games old, don't be surprised if the blogs and message boards devoted to the Bulls are overloaded with criticism of coach Vinny Del Negro and some of his players after Sunday's performance.

With an assortment of missed shots, sloppy turnovers and questionable decisions -- on and off the court -- the Bulls turned a tight back-and-forth battle into a fairly comfortable 95-87 Miami Heat victory in American Airlines Arena.

To say this game was winnable for the Bulls is to say that South Beach has decent nightlife.

''We just didn't do enough down the stretch to get this one, to win this one,'' guard Kirk Hinrich said. ''It's just tough. We wanted to bounce back after that Boston game. I don't feel like we played our best today.''

The Bulls (1-2) still are a guard-oriented team and didn't get much production from the backcourt except for John Salmons, who scored 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Hinrich (3-for-11) and Derrick Rose (4-for-15) combined for 15 points in nearly 69 minutes of playing time.

Still, the Bulls entered the fourth quarter with a 70-69 lead in a game where neither team had more than a five-point lead to that point. Then with just six minutes remaining, Luol Deng (game-high 26 points) hit a 16-footer for an 80-77 Bulls lead.

But then things began unraveling. With the Bulls leading by a point on the next possession, Deng and Hinrich missed wide-open jumpers. After Miami's Jermaine O'Neal converted a three-point play to give the Heat a two-point lead, Salmons hit a three-pointer for an 83-82 Bulls' edge with 3:55 to play.

But that would be their last lead -- in fact, it was their last basket, as they managed just four points the rest of the way on free throws.

''We had some open looks, we didn't knock 'em down and they made some plays,'' Del Negro said. ''We had an opportunity on the road. We didn't capitalize down the stretch and we didn't shoot the ball well enough again -- in the fourth period, especially, and the second half -- to put enough pressure on them.''

Perhaps most discouraging is the way the Heat (3-0) was able to rally late despite the Bulls essentially holding Dwyane Wade (team-high 25 points) in check down the stretch. Wade had just four points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of meaningless free throws in the final seconds.

Udonis Haslem (19 points) and Carlos Arroyo (12) came off the Miami bench to do damage.

''I think we have a very strong bench, and we have to do a better job of controlling their bench,'' Del Negro said. ''Both of those guys hurt us.''

The epitome of the Bulls' struggles down the stretch came when they ran a play out of a timeout trailing 91-87 with under a minute to play.

Rose drove to the basket and then threw a pass to Hinrich in the corner. The pass, though, was off the mark because of the defensive pressure, and Hinrich was falling out of bounds as he caught it. With nowhere else to go, he threw it back to Rose, but Rose -- who had ran out of bounds after the pass -- couldn't re-establish himself in the court before touching the ball.

''We ran [the play] the time before, and Wade kind of knew it was coming and Derrick had to try to force a pass,'' Hinrich said.

It's never a good thing when the opposition can smell out your plays out of a timeout, but Rose put much of the Bulls' late-game woes on himself. He said his ankle injury continues to improve, but he hasn't regained his rhythm after sitting much of the preseason.

''Man, I missed a lot of layups,'' Rose said. ''[Today], if we're off or whatever, I'm going back to my Memphis days shooting a whole gang of layups. I've gotta get back in rhythm.

''We had the game and let it slip.''


Bulls 27 21 22 17--87

Miami 24 25 20 26--95

Bulls min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Deng 36:05 11-21 4-5 3-8 1 2 26

Thomas 21:05 1-4 2-2 1-6 1 0 4

Noah 30:07 4-7 2-2 3-7 0 3 10

Rose 35:08 4-15 0-2 1-5 5 2 8

Salmons 36:43 7-14 2-2 2-4 2 4 17

Gibson 17:10 2-4 0-0 2-4 0 1 4

Hinrich 33:24 3-11 1-2 1-3 2 3 7

Miller 24:35 4-10 2-2 0-3 1 1 11

Pargo 5:43 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Totals 240 36-88 13-17 13-40 13 17 87

Percentages: FG .409, FT .765. 3-Point Goals: 2-12, .167 (Miller 1-3, Salmons 1-5, Pargo 0-1, Hinrich 0-3). Team Rebounds: 10. Team Turnovers: 13 (12 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Thomas 3, Gibson, Noah). Turnovers: 13 (Salmons 4, Miller 2, Noah 2, Rose 2, Deng, Gibson, Hinrich). Steals: 8 (Salmons 4, Hinrich 2, Pargo, Rose). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 4:14 first.

Heat min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Rchrdson 26:32 2-6 0-0 0-4 2 2 6

Beasley 30:45 3-12 4-5 4-11 1 1 10

O'Neal 28:18 3-6 2-3 1-7 1 3 8

Chalmrs 31:57 3-5 4-4 0-2 4 2 11

Wade 35:56 8-19 8-10 1-1 3 2 25

Haslem 34:45 9-13 1-1 2-11 1 0 19

Arroyo 16:03 5-7 2-2 0-0 2 2 12

Anthony 19:42 1-2 0-0 0-3 1 3 2

Wright 16:02 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 0 2

Totals 240 35-72 21-25 8-40 15 15 95

Percentages: FG .486, FT .840. 3-Point Goals: 4-15, .267 (Richardson 2-5, Chalmers 1-2, Wade 1-4, Wright 0-1, Beasley 0-3). Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 19 (17 PTS). Blocked Shots: 8 (Anthony 3, Beasley 2, Wright 2, Chalmers). Turnovers: 18 (Chalmers 5, Wade 4, O'Neal 3, Anthony 2, Arroyo, Beasley, Haslem, Wright). Steals: 6 (Chalmers 4, Richardson 2). Technical Fouls: None.

Officials--Steve Javie, Eric Dalen, Joe Forte. A--15,865. T--2:17.


Even though the regular season is less than a week old and the free-agent period is eight months away, Dwyane Wade was asked about the possibility of signing with his hometown Sunday night following the Miami Heat's 95-87 victory over the Bulls . ''That's a long way away,'' he said. "When we get there, we'll see. But right now, [I'm going to] just focus on my team, focus on getting better here in Miami. Free agency is so far away I can't even think about it." ... Someone jokingly asked if his struggles in the United Center might affect his decision. "I've had some bad games there, but I've had some good wins as well," Wade said. "I don't love the rims there, but I've had some good games there." ... Of course, it's silly to speculate about his future now because so much can change before Wade becomes a free agent in July 2010. But reality never stopped good speculation -- like this summer when his purchase of a luxury townhouse in downtown Chicago fueled rumors of his intention of signing with the Bulls . "I didn't hear nothing about it this summer," he said with a smile. "I was there the whole summer and didn't hear anything." ... Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro had some simple pregame advice for the players who struggled to make shots in the first two games. "Keep shooting, keep firing," he said. "We've had good shots from watching the film. We have to put the ball in the basket a bit more to put some pressure on teams, but we're getting good looks and we have to convert a little better. Eventually we will. Hopefully, tonight it starts." ... It did for a while as the Bulls were 22-for-45 (48.9 percent) from the field in the first half, but they were 14-for-43 (32.6) in the second half and have a field-goal percentage of .413 for the season. ... With a free throw late in the third quarter, Wade scored the 10,000th point of his NBA career. ... The Heat was playing without guard Daequan Cook, who sat out with a shoulder injury. Late in the game, Miami center Jermaine O'Neal suffered a broken nose.

John Jackson


10,005 Career points for Dwyane Wade after he scored 25 on Sunday.

397 Number of games it took Wade to reach the 10,000-point plateau.

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Added: November 3, 2009


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