LeBron struggles, so do Heat

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CHICAGO (AP) - LeBron James had trouble sleeping the night before the opener of the Eastern Conference finals because he was so excited about the opportunity ahead. Maybe he was a little tired Sunday night.

Now the Miami Heat star will likely have more restless nights ahead before Game 2 on Wednesday night.

James picked up two first-quarter fouls, had an off-night offensively shooting just 5-for-15, and the Heat’s defense became unglued in the second half Sunday night as the Bulls took control in a 103-82 victory.

James, averaging 26.1 points in the playoffs so far, finished with 15 _ only five in the second half.

“It’s a really good defensive team. They make you take some tough shots,” James said.

“There were a couple of shots that I normally make and have made in the past. Just one of those nights where individually I just didn’t have it going.”

Chicago native Dwyane Wade had 18, eight under his playoff average, while shooting 7-for-17.

“They put a lot of pressure on us. They extended their defense a lot,” Wade said. “They did a good job of making sure we weren’t comfortable in our offensive sets.

If not for Chris Bosh, the other member of Miami’s heralded Big Three, the game could have gotten away earlier in the deafening roar of the United Center. Bosh had 30 points.

LeBron is such a tough cover. You don’t guard him individually. You guard him with your team,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, known for his defensive schemes.

“He is so unselfish. He’s going to the pass the ball when he’s double teamed. That’s the way he plays. He’s very unselfish. And then he got some good looks that he normally makes.”

Miami’s starters watched the final two minutes of the blowout from the bench, not the start they could ever have envisioned. The Heat, who were 0-3 against the Bulls in the regular season, finished with 16 turnovers, four apiece by James and Wade.

Even more telling was the Heat’s inability to keep the Bulls off the offensive boards, where Chicago had a 19-6 advantage.

“Nineteen offensive rebounds, that’s unacceptable for us,” Bosh said. “If we are serious about winning, we have to change that.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said one way is to get down after loose balls, where he said the Bulls were dominant.

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