SO MUCH FOR that notion of the Miami Heat being in trouble.
Sure, they've lost homecourt advantage in these Eastern Conference semifinals. But an absolute domination of the visiting Chicago Bulls last night made the reigning NBA champions look like the clear-cut team to beat in this title race once again.
"We're still in the hole," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team will need to win at least one game in Chicago if it's going to prevail in this series.
But given how one-sided last night's game was, that wouldn't seem like too tall a challenge.
Ray Allen scored 21 points in only 19 minutes, LeBron James finished with 19 points and nine assists, and the Heat led by as many as 46 points on the way to a 115-78 victory in Game 2 of their series, now knotted at one game apiece.
It was the largest margin of victory in Heat postseason history, topping a 35-point win over Orlando on April 24, 1997.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected in the fourth quarter for Chicago, and the league will almost certainly review some of the things said and done in a game that was close for the first 20 minutes before turning into an embarrassment for the Bulls. The Bulls were called for six player technicals, the most by any team in a playoff game since Boston had that many against Indiana in 2005.
The Heat had three technicals assessed, a season-high for them.
"We got sidetracked and you can't do that," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We allowed frustration to carry over to the next play . . . You come in here, you're not going to get calls. That's reality."
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Chicago.
Norris Cole scored 18 points for Miami, which got 15 from Dwyane Wade and 13 from Chris Bosh. The Heat led 42-38 with 3:42 left in the first half, before going on an absurd 62-20 run.
James wore a T-shirt that said "Up To Me" before the game, and it appeared the message had some literal meaning.
"I wanted to be aggressive," James said.
George Karl is the NBA's Coach of the Year after leading Denver to a team-record 57 wins this season.
Karl got a total of 404 points, including 62 first-place votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. The Heat's Erik Spoelstra was second with 190 points (24 first-place votes).
Golden State eliminated the Nuggets 92-88 in Game 6 last Thursday night. It's the first time Karl has won the award in 25 seasons.
* Pau Gasol will undergo a minimally invasive procedure today to try to combat tendinitis in his knees. He sat out eight Los Angeles Lakers games this season because of tendon soreness in both knees.