MIAMI, Florida, May 6 – Nate Robinson scored the go-ahead jumpshot with 1:18 left as the Chicago Bulls scored the final 10 points en route to a 93-86 win over reigning champions Miami in the opener of their NBA playoff series.
Robinson, who was bloodied in the first half after a collision with LeBron James, carried the visiting Bulls on his back down the stretch by scoring the final seven points Monday to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“We’ve been hit all year with a lot of different things, but I like the mental toughness of our team,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “This is just one game.”
Robinson finished with 27 points and nine assists for the injury-riddled Bulls, who had snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak during the regular season and handed them their first loss in their last 13 games on Monday.
Robinson played with 10 stitches in his mouth after hitting his face on floor. He left the game to get medical attention but returned later.
“It was just a hustle play that went wrong,” Robinson said. “You have to play through it.”
James had 22 of his 24 points in the second half for Miami, which lost its third game in its last 44 going back to February 3.
Miami will host game two Wednesday where the Heat will try to get a split of their two games at home to begin the second-round series.
The Heat, who had been idle for the past week, looked rusty down the stretch.
The Bulls bottled up James late in the fourth as they appear to have developed a formula this season for beating the mighty Heat. The Bulls finished the contest on a 10-0 run.
“Our offence was not as fluid and efficient as it normally is, and you have to give credit to their defence for that. We need to show more poise, patience and aggressiveness,” Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Chicago ended Miami’s 27-game winning streak, which was the second-longest in league history. After that regular-season loss, James complained about the Bulls physical play, especially the defence of Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.
James didn’t have to contend with injured Hinrich Monday, but he did have his hands full with the rest of the Bulls’ balanced attack.
On top of missing Hinrich and injured former MVP Derrick Rose, Luol Deng also didn’t play against Miami with complications from a spinal tap procedure.
Deng, 28, underwent the spinal tap last week to rule out meningitis.
The complications from the procedure led to further problems. Deng reportedly had to return to a Chicago emergency room Sunday morning after being released from the hospital Saturday.
Injuries aside, the Bulls showed their depth as five players finished in double figures, including forward Gibson who came off the bench to score 12 points.
Jimmy Butler had 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Joakim Noah added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who held a commanding 46-32 advantage on the glass and a 17-8 edge in second-chance points.
The trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for just 12 points in the opening half, their lowest first-half total of the season.
Since the 2005-06 season, the teams have met in the playoffs four times, including a Chicago series sweep in 2007. The Heat won in 2006 and 2011.