- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2011

CHICAGO — By the numbers, the Chicago Bulls easily could have been blown out by the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

They weren’t, though.

Even though MVP Derrick Rose struggled, even though they were outshot and outrebounded, and even though LeBron James and Dwyane Wade played more like superstars, the Bulls were in it until the end.

So maybe that’s one positive they can take from their 85-75 loss Wednesday — or not. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau certainly wasn’t afterward. He gave his team Thursday off, but he’ll be spending the next few days trying to fix what went wrong with the series shifting to Miami tied at one game apiece.

“We’re going to have to make corrections, learn from it, and do a whole lot better down there,” Thibodeau said. “Defensively, we have to do a lot better. We have to clean a lot of things up.”

The Bulls figured Miami wasn’t about to go quietly even after a dominating 103-82 win in Game 1, when James struggled in a big way and Wade just about disappeared. This time, James came up big near the end and finished with 29 points. Wade scored 24, and Udonis Haslem provided a big assist with 13 points.

Still, Chicago might be up 2-0 had it made just a few more baskets or grabbed a few more rebounds.

After dominating Miami on the boards, the Bulls were beaten 45-41 in an area Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has dubbed a “fistfight.” And the Bulls went from scoring 31 second-chance points in the opener to 18 in Game 2.

The shooting was simply abysmal, with the Bulls making 34.1 percent compared to Miami’s 47.1. Whether they were firing away from the outside or going to the rim, they simply weren’t hitting. They missed an astounding 17 of 20 3-pointers, were a brutal 17 of 42 in the paint and had little luck at the foul line, too, going 16 of 26.

No wonder, then, that the Bulls managed just 29 points in the second half, including a franchise postseason low 10 in the fourth quarter.

All five Chicago starters shot below 50 percent, with Rose hitting just 7 of 23 while scoring 21 points. The twisting layups and floaters that usually fall through the net simply weren’t going down and his jumpers were clanging off the rim.

The only other Bulls player in double figures was Luol Deng with 13, and he was just 5 of 15 and 1 of 7 from long range.

Carlos Boozer? He had a rough night, going 3 for 10 with seven points and sitting out the fourth quarter.

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