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Luol Deng had another good game, finishing with 18 points, but Taj Gibson couldn’t rekindle the energy he brought to the Game 1 victory. He had seven rebounds and no points in nearly 24 minutes.

And no one had an answer for Wade and James.

“Both of them have been here before and we haven’t,” he said. “Their whole defense was good and LeBron played great against Derrick. We obviously didn’t play this team 82 games this year.”

It looked like the Bulls would get a big lift from veteran 38-year-old center-forward Kurt Thomas, who had four points and seven rebounds in the final quarter of his first game in three weeks. Ronnie Brewer’s 3-pointer after a nice shovel pass from Thomas put Chicago up 76-64 with 3:53 left.

The Bulls were still ahead 77-65 with 3:14 to go when Brewer made 1 of 2 free throws. But then James and Wade took over and the Bulls couldn’t respond in the clutch.

“It is what it is. They’re a good defensive team,” Rose said. “They were playing tough defense. At the end it’s on me. Everything is on me _ turnovers, missed shots, fouls. Anything, learn from it. All I can do right now. The series is over.”

Thomas said the Heat’s play was extraordinary over the last several minutes.

“It was an amazing three minutes. They got themselves back in the game so quick. They kept hitting big shots,” he said.

Chicago won 62 games this season and was 3-0 against the Heat in the regular season. The Bulls finished 42-8 at the United Center, including the playoffs, with two of those losses to the Heat in this series.

“It hurts,” said Chicago center Joakim Noah. “We definitely had our chances. … They got hot. They are Hollywood as hell, but they are very good.”