CHICAGO — The way everything was crumbling, the Chicago Bulls sure needed a reprieve. Knocking off the defending champions was a nice one.
Carlos Boozer scored 27 points, and the Bulls pounded LeBron James and the Miami Heat 107-87 on Thursday night in the NBA.
Luol Deng had 20 points, Taj Gibson chipped in with 19, and Joakim Noah added 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls had no trouble taking out the Southeast Division leaders.
Chicago took control early on and hung on down the stretch after watching a 25-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to 12 late in the game.
It was an impressive showing by a team that had dropped six of seven and is once again trying to get by without the injured Derrick Rose.
“Our team needed it,” Noah said. “We went through a lot the past couple of weeks. It’s really hard to play without Derrick. I want to win with Derrick Rose.”
The Bulls shot 50 percent and were 10-for-19 on 3-pointers — four by Deng and three by Kirk Hinrich, who scored 13. They also outrebounded Miami 49-27.
James scored 21 points for Miami, but the Heat shot a season low for the second straight game, converting 41.6 percent from the field after hitting 43.9 percent in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit.
“We can’t just brush this loss aside,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have to really own it, to understand what happened. They just got whatever they wanted, right in the paint, at the rim, and if they missed those, then they’re just beating us up at the glass.”
It didn’t help that Dwyane Wade stayed back at the hotel with an illness after sitting out the previous game because of knee soreness. Chris Andersen missed this one for personal reasons
Miami cut it to 93-81 on Norris Cole’s runner with 5:38 remaining. But Gibson answered with a jumper and blocked a layup by Udonis Haslem.