HOW DO YOU sum up this Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat Eastern Conference semifinal series? The Bulls took a 2-0 lead last night . . . and then ran out of gas.
Pushing back from its series-opening loss, the Heat moved to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup with a stifling 88-65 rout at the United Center.
Game 5 is tomorrow at Miami.
Even with guard Dwyane Wade hobbling on a sore right knee, an injury that was exacerbated during a second quarter misstep against Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, the Heat had more than enough on a night when the Bulls finally wilted amid the injuries that have left them decimated.
While Wade went scoreless in the first half on 0-for-5 shooting before coming around to close with six points by going 3-for-10, there was plenty from LeBron James and Chris Bosh to pick up the slack.
James, who had taken a somewhat passive approach early in the series, this time was aggressive from the outset, closing with 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Bosh opened 6-for-7 from the field and finished with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
Against a Bulls team again without ailing Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, that was more than enough.
"They're in a tough situation because of injuries and illnesses and whatever's going on," James said. "But that's not for us to worry about."
With Game 1 revelation Nate Robinson scoreless on 0-for-12 shooting, with Game 3 scoring threat Carlos Boozer 2-for-10 in the first half, and with Butler and Bulls center Joakim Noah clearly on tired legs, there wasn't anything in the way of pushback.
The Bulls' 2-0 lead was their only lead.
Boozer led the Bulls with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Noah added nine rebounds.
LeBron James and Memphis guard Tony Allen headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, as voted by the league's 30 head coaches. The pair were joined on the first team by Clippers guard Chris Paul, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, Knicks center Tyson Chandler and Bulls center Joakim Noah.
Marc Gasol, who was the NBA's defensive player of the year, made the second team. He was joined on that squad by Celtics guard Avery Bradley, Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, Spurs forward Tim Duncan and Pacers forward Paul George.