After frustrating the Heat in Game 1, it was the Bulls who lost composure in Game 2, drawing six technicals and two ejections.
The Bulls knew the Heat’s counterpunch was coming.
And they were utterly helpless to prevent it, rolled over and run over by the defending champions and a 62-20 Heat avalanche over a remarkable 20-minute stretch that began late in the second and continued into the fourth.
Having essentially lost the game by midway through the third quarter, the Bulls then lost their cool, picking up technical fouls that resulted in fourth-quarter ejections for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Chicago had six technicals overall.
“It’s a real chippy series, playoff basketball at its best,” Gibson said. “I’ve got to hold my composure.”
Noah said: “I just wanted to let the referee know how I felt about the game. But I guess I deserved to get kicked out.”
There were flying elbows, loud protests and a few hard fouls from the Bulls, but ultimately, they were betrayed by their hallmark: defense.
“We just flat-out [stunk],” guard Nate Robinson said. “They’re world champs for a reason, and they played like it tonight. We’ve got to play better defense.”
Unlike Game 1, they couldn’t consistently prevent Heat forays into the paint or keep the Heat out of transition. “They beat us in every aspect of the game,” Noah said.
• The Heat, 7 for 24 on threes in Game 1, shot 9 for 18 in Game 2, including 5 for 7 in a first half.
• Miami had more fast break points in the first half (10) than it did in all of Game 1 (nine), closing with a 20-2 edge in that category. “Once they get in the open court, it’s frustrating,” Gibson said.
• The Heat produced 56 points in the paint, compared with 18 for Chicago. Some of those came in transition. But others resulted from hard drives to the basket, especially by LeBron James, who scored his first five baskets in the paint.
The Heat shot 60 percent for the game against a team that limited opponents to 44.3 percent shooting this season.
Also key: The Heat outrebounded Chicago 41-28 after being outrebounded by 14 in Game 1 — and by 58 total in five previous meetings this season.
“They were more aggressive, more determined,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We were back on our heels. We showed a lot of frustration to carry over to the next play. You have to have poise under pressure. You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. That’s reality.”
Offensively, the Bulls shot 35.5 percent, and Robinson — who erupted for 27 points in Game 1 — was held to 11 on 3-for-10 shooting. Carlos Boozer shot 3 for 9 and finished with just eight points and four rebounds.
Still, Noah said the Bulls still have the advantage. “No question,” he said.
“We’ve got the home court. We got punched in the mouth tonight. We’ll be back. We’re a confident group. We didn’t play well but it’s not the end of the world.”