MIAMI, Florida, May 23 – Chris Bosh was the Miami star to shine, pouring in 34 points to lead the Heat to a 96-85 victory over Chicago and a 2-1 lead in their NBA semi-final playoff series.
LeBron James added 22 points and Dwyane Wade contributed 17 for the Heat, who went on a 9-0 late scoring run that was capped by a three-point play from James that put Miami up 87-74 with five minutes remaining.
Bosh missed his first three shots then caught fire, hitting 13 of 15 from the floor.
He had scored 30 points in the series opener in Chicago, but the Heat were trounced 103-82.
They rebounded with a game-two victory in Chicago and trailed for less than 3 1/2 minutes in this one.
"I just wanted to be aggressive and just have some kind of imprint on this series," said Bosh, who is playing in the conference final round for the first time.
"I had an aggressive game one, game two was so-so, but we still won.
"But out here on the home floor I just wanted to be aggressive and it turned out to be a good game."
The Heat, who are trying to reach the NBA finals for the first time since they won the title in 2006, host game four on Tuesday night.
They are unbeaten at home in this postseason.
Carlos Boozer had 26 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since February 5-7.
"Our will wasn’t there tonight," said NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose. "We’ve just got to find a way to win the next game."
Rose scored 20 for Chicago, despite making just eight of 19 from the floor.
"Every pick-and-roll, they’re doubling me," said Rose, who also finished the first half with no assists. "I’ve just got to find a way to beat it."
Rose was on the defensive even before the game started, denying that he told ESPN The Magazine that the NBA has a steroid problem.
"That’s something I didn’t say. I guess (the reporter) misunderstood what I said," Rose said. "On to the game."
Bosh wasn’t the only player on the court with an aggressive mind-set, and James, Wade and Rose all toppled into courtside photographers in the first five minutes.
The Bulls scored just 15 points in the first quarter and their frustration showed. As center Joakim Noah sat on the bench, television cameras showed him uttering what appeared to be an obscenity toward someone.
He admitted he exchanged words with a fan.
"I got caught up," Noah said. "A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize."
Eventually emotions steadied and so did the scoring.
Bosh was 5-for-5 in the second quarter on his way to a game-leading 16 points by halftime.
Boozer, who went 0-for-5 to start, only missed one of his five shots in the second quarter.
"We feel like we had chances to win both of these last two games," Boozer said. "We’re not frustrated to the point where we’re not going to keep fighting. That’s not our character.
"We are a tough-minded team, a tough group of guys, and trust me, we’ll be right back at it in game four."