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Wednesday night, the Heat took their 27-game winning streak to Chicago to play the Bulls. Shockingly, the Bulls did what no team has been able to in months: they beat the Heat.
Kirk Hinrich played a big role, particularly in taking the ball away from Chris Bosh. KIRK HINRICHSTRAIGHT TOOKEN 2, STARRING THE INCOMPARABLE LIAM NEESONS.
But as a team, the Bulls did this by playing very physical defense. Because the Bulls’ mediocre offense had no chance against Miami’s in a shootout, they had to make the game as ugly and choppy as they could.
Between that bear-hug tackle of LeBron James by Kirk Hinrich and this assassination of Dwyane Wade by Jimmy Butler, the Bulls’ brutal physicality helped keep Miami out of its perpetual-motion offensive ball movement.
This approach culminated with a dual takedown on LeBron late in the fourth as he drove to the basket.
James seemed to lose his cool when his assailants, Butler and Gibson, escaped sans flagrant fouls, and so he lowered his shoulder and put it into Carlos Boozer’s chest on the next play.
It was LeBron’s first flagrant of the season — James commits the fourth-fewest personal fouls per game of anyone in the league who qualifies, and seeing him frustrated was strange in and of itself.
He carried that frustration through the rest of the game, and it was evident at the end when he hung from the rim as Nate Robinson’s game-clinching floater went in.
Expect a lot more teams to create a gameplan for the Heat that boils down to making LeBron mad.
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