MIAMI - The Chicago Bulls swept the defending NBA champion Miami Heat out of the playoffs, winning a postseason series for the first time since the Michael Jordan era.
Ben Gordon scored 24 points, Luol Deng had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Chicago beat Miami, 92-79, yesterday in Game 4 to finish off their first-round Eastern Conference series. The Bulls, who will face Detroit in the second round, became the first team to oust a defending champion in the opening playoff series since Phoenix did it to San Antonio in 2000.
The coach of that Suns team? Scott Skiles, who coaches the Bulls now - and who put together a plan that simply befuddled Miami all series long.
"It's an accomplishment," Skiles said. "We're in a funny position here. We want to enjoy it. It was great. We played well. We played hard all four games. We deserved to win - but we want to keep playing. . . . We know what we're facing now. We want to keep moving on."
Dwyane Wade scored 24 points for Miami on 8-for-22 shooting, and added 10 assists. Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points, Alonzo Mourning scored 14, and James Posey had 18 rebounds - a club playoff-record 17 on the defensive end - for the Heat.
Chicago became the 80th consecutive NBA team to advance after taking a three-games-to-none lead in a series; only three teams in major pro sports have overcome such a deficit, and the Heat won't be joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2004 Boston Red Sox in that exclusive club.
"Somewhere in the NBA it's going to happen," Heat coach Pat Riley said before yesterday's game. "One day, one team will do that."
Suns 113, Lakers 100
LOS ANGELES - Two-time MVP Steve Nash had 23 assists - one shy of the NBA playoff record - to go with 17 points, Amare Stoudemire had 27 points and a career playoff-high 21 rebounds, and Phoenix raced to a victory over Los Angeles for a three-games-to-one lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Nash left the game to a mixed reception with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining and the outcome long since decided. Magic Johnson and John Stockton share the single-game playoff assist record - Johnson doing so for the Lakers against Phoenix in 1984, and Stockton accomplishing the feat against the Lakers for Utah four years later.
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Phoenix, where the Suns won the first two games. A sixth game, if necessary, would be Friday night at the Staples Center.
The Suns averaged an NBA-leading 110.2 points during the regular season, scoring at least 100 in all but 14 of their 82 games and less than 90 only twice. After losing Game 3 to the Lakers, 95-89, coach Mike D'Antoni and his players knew they had to quicken the pace.
Did they ever.
Shawn Marion had 22 points and 11 rebounds, supersub Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points and James Jones added 11 for the Suns.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, but scored only three points in the fourth quarter. Lamar Odom added 19 points.
Nets 102, Raptors 81
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Vince Carter scored 27 points, Richard Jefferson added 23, and New Jersey took a three-games-to-one lead over Toronto with its second-biggest victory ever in a playoff game.
Jason Kidd added 17 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds for New Jersey, which can advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a victory in Game 5 tomorrow night. If the Raptors win that one, Game 6 would be back in New Jersey on Friday.
Andrea Bargnani scored 16 points for the Raptors, who led for all of 15 seconds in the two games at the Meadowlands. Toronto has lost eight straight road playoff games since beating the Sixers on May 6, 2001, in Game 1 of Eastern Conference semifinals.
Kidd, who missed practice on the eve of Game 3 with a sore knee that Raptors coach Sam Mitchell doesn't seem to believe he had, sat the entire fourth quarter. That's probably all that prevented him from a second straight triple-double, leaving him with 10 in the postseason, tied with Larry Bird for second on the career list.
D-league champs. Darius Rice scored a playoff-record 52 points to help the Dakota Wizards win the NBA Development League championship with a 129-121 overtime victory over the Colorado 14ers last night in Bismarck, N.D.