Marco Belinelli took the Bulls’ first shot, a woefully short airball. Joakim Noah took their second shot, a very long airball. Their third possession was a turnover, and the night was shaping up like a Chicago disaster.
It was 10-0 before half the crowd was in their seats, and 22-4 just past the midpoint of the opening quarter. Since the start of Game 4, in barely over 53 minutes of play, the Heat had outscored the Bulls by 40 points. Everyone in the building — except for the 20 or so guys in red uniforms or wearing suits on the Chicago bench — had to be thinking that the series was over.
If so, then they were all wrong.
Game 5 turned into a microcosm of the Bulls’ season. They were unfazed, unflappable, unrelenting in the face of being counted out.
And before long, the massive deficit was a thing of the past.
“We kept fighting,” Noah said. “And kept fighting.”
Boozer went 6 for 7 in the opening quarter, his layup late in the period getting the Bulls within seven before James scored to end the first and give Miami a 30-21 lead. The Bulls were unbothered, and just kept getting stops on one end, making baskets on the other. Butler’s 3-pointer with 4:46 left in the half gave Chicago its first advantage of the night, 38-36.
To recap, the game started with a 22-4 Heat run — and in the 13 minutes that immediately followed, the Bulls rebutted with a 34-14 burst.
By halftime, it was 53-47. In the third, after Chicago briefly led by 11 — remember, they were down 18, making that a 29-point turnaround — the Bulls took a 77-69 edge into the final 12 minutes.
“We grinded it out,” Boozer said. “We had chances. We just fell a little bit short.”
And Miami moved on, now halfway home in its quest for a second straight title.
NOTES: Miami is 6-0 in its last six chances to close out a series. ... The Bulls had 16 turnovers, which Miami turned into 27 points. ... Hinrich’s calf injury was improving, the Bulls said, but not to the point where he could play.