A three-point play by Boozer with 1.1 seconds left in the third quarter put the Bulls ahead 69-68 entering the final period. The Bulls’ lead ballooned to six points to begin the fourth quarter. When James checked into the game with 9:04 left, the Heat trailed 75-69 and United Center was pulsing with the rhythm of an upset.
Chicago went ahead 80-73 on a driving, crashing layup by Hinrich, and Deng pushed the Bulls’ advantage to 83-75 with a three-pointer at the six-minute mark.
The Heat trailed by nine points to begin the second half but quickly cut into the Bulls’ lead with a pair of dunks by James. The first, and most spectacular of the game, was a one-handed jam on an alley-oop from Wade. On the Heat’s following possession, James finished a second fast break with another dunk — this time the Tomahawk variety.
Persistence by Bosh gave the Heat its first lead of the game. He pulled down consecutive offensive rebounds, preserving a possession, before Wade slapped an offensive rebound of his own to Shane Battier, who was wide open at the top of the key. Battier made his first three-pointer of the game to give the Heat its first lead, 59-58 with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
While the Bulls were without Noah, Chicago still had plenty of muscle and passion inside. Boozer established himself early, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half. Overall, the Bulls outrebounded the Heat 18-12 to begin the game and led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter. The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 43-31 in the game.
James was the main protagonist for the Heat in the first half, scoring 18 points, but the Bulls built a 55-46 lead with an ensemble cast. Deng had 14 points in the first half and tiny Robinson was 5 of 7 from the field for 11 points.