A dejected LeBron James looks up at the scoreboard after losing to the Bulls in Game 1 on Monday night in Miami.
MIAMI -- Nate Robinson scored a game-high 27 points - including 11 in the fourth quarter - as the Chicago Bulls erased a seven-point deficit in the final quarter in a 93-86 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the second-round Eastern Conference playoff series Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Top-seeded Miami entered the final quarter leading fifth-seeded Chicago 62-58.
LeBron James connected on five of his first six fourth-quarter shots for 15 of his 24 points. He had just two points at halftime.
The Heat went up 76-69 on his three-point play with 6:30 left, but the Bulls countered with seven straight points, punctuated by Marco Belinelli’s bucket from long distance.
The teams exchanged the lead for the next few minutes.
James’ two free throws handed Miami an 83-81 advantage. Robinson answered with his own pair of foul shots. James assisted Chris Bosh’s dunk. Chicago missed a bucket, but James made only one of two foul shots. That left the door open for Belinelli’s game-tying 3 with just under five minutes left.
After a missed jumper by Bosh, Robinson’s jumper put Chicago up 88-86 with 1:18 left. Dwyane Wade couldn’t finish on a 3-pointer and Robinson extended the lead to four with a floater with 45 seconds left.
James then missed a shot with 29 seconds remaining.
In the third quarter, Carlos Boozer’s dunk with 6:26 remaining handed Chicago a 49-46 lead. Wade scored six of the next nine Heat points as Miami captured an advantage with 4:27 left in the quarter.
Yet when it seemed the Heat would begin to pull away, the Bulls answered back with a bucket of their own.
Robinson, who exited the game in the second quarter with a cut upper lip caused while diving for a loose ball, scored 13 in the quarter. He made three 3-pointers.
In the second quarter, Nazr Mohammed’s basket put the Bulls up by a game-high eight points before Miami rattled off 10 straight - nine from the duo of Ray Allen and Wade. The latter’s jumper gave the Heat their first lead - 25-23 - with 8:13 left in the second.
The Bulls turned the ball over seven times in the quarter, including four of five possessions during a stretch immediately following Mohammed’s lay-up.
Though the Heat went up 35-30 on a Wade fastbreak layup, Chicago scored seven of the next nine points to even it at 37 heading into halftime.
Both teams started the game cold, combining to go 8 of 29 from the field before Chicago closed out the quarter sinking its final three shots, taking a 21-15 lead.
The Heat looked like they had a week off between games, missing their first seven shots from the field and falling behind 8-2.
Miami’s first bucket came with 6:37 remaining in the quarter on Udonis Haslem’s bucket, trimming the deficit to 8-4. Until that point, the Heat had more fouls (three) than points.
Shane Battier, who failed to knock down three open 3-pointers off the bench, finally connected on the fourth. The Bulls and Heat had missed the first nine from downtown.
After shooting 49.7 percent from the field in the first round against Milwaukee, the Heat went just 5 of 19 (.263) in its lowest-scoring opening quarter of the season.
NOTES: Bulls forward Luol Deng (spinal tap) and guard Kirk Hinrich (calf bruise) remain day-to-day. Neither played on Monday. Coach Tom Thibodeau hopes Deng will fly to Miami on Tuesday. “(It is) more the after effects of the spinal tap,” Thibodeau said of Deng. “I spoke to him today and he is feeling a little better.” … Entering Monday, guard Jimmy Butler has played all 48 minutes in two consecutive playoff games, the first Chicago player to do so since at least 1986. … James received his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern during a pregame ceremony. … Guard Mario Chalmers is tied with Tim Hardaway for the most 3-pointers in the organization’s postseason history with 80. … Up next: Miami hosts Chicago in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Lone Boston sports writer who didn’t vote James for MVP defends criticism
LeBron James’ fourth MVP award was one vote shy of unanimous. The dissenting vote was cast by Boston Globe NBA writer Gary Washburn.
Washburn defended his vote after critics attacked the single non-LeBron vote before knowing who voted for New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
Washburn wrote for the Globe on Monday that he voted for Anthony based on his importance to the Knicks.
“When the voting was announced Sunday afternoon, I was flabbergasted to learn I was the lone voter among 121 to not give LeBron a first-place vote, truly believing Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and perhaps even Kobe Bryant would snag a first-place vote or two,” Washburn writes.
“Firstly, when I submitted my vote in mid-April, I had no idea I would be the only voter to leave LeBron out of first. This isn’t Mrs. Wilson’s class, I don’t walk around asking fellow sportswriters their answers to the US History quiz. I had no idea whom the writers were voting for, so this was no LeBron conspiracy,” he continued.
“Secondly, this isn’t the Best Player in the Game award, it’s the Most Valuable Player award, and I think what Anthony accomplished this season was worthy of my vote. He led the Knicks to their first division title in 19 years.”
Washburn compared the scenario to 1992-93, when Charles Barkley won the award over Michael Jordan. Jordan, a five-time MVP, “could have earned 10,” Washburn writes.
“If you were to take Anthony off the Knicks, they are a lottery team … If LeBron was taken away from the Heat, they still would be a fifth or sixth seed.”
“(LeBron James) is the best player of this generation, a multifaceted superstar with the physical prowess of Adonis, but I chose to reward a player who has lifted his team to new heights,” Washburn said.