Reporting from Miami — Chris Bosh spun on Carlos Boozer, leapt, threw down a two-handed dunk and pounded his chest with both fists as he turned upcourt in the midst of Miami's fourth-quarter run.
The overlooked member of the Heat's Big 3 was even more impressive Sunday night than in his 30-point performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Chicago. The Bulls made that effort in the series opener insignificant.
This time, Bosh's 34 points carried Miami to a 96-85 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena that gave the Heat a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Heat, which lost the opening game in Chicago, 103-82, remained perfect at home this postseason, and they can mostly thank Bosh.
He kept Miami ahead until his teammates blew open what had been a close game most of the night. James' layup and ensuing free throw gave Miami an 87-74 lead with 5:07 left. The Bulls, led by Boozer's 26 points and Derrick Rose's 20, retaliated with an 8-2 run, but couldn't draw any closer.
Bosh finished 13-of-18 shooting from the field and also grabbed five rebounds.
Once again, the teams went into the fourth quarter locked in a tight battle.
The Bulls, who took the lead briefly after halftime, charged back from their largest deficit at the time -- nine points -- with 1:24 left and ended the third quarter trailing just 68-65. Luol Deng sank a pair of 3-pointers during the 8-2 run and nearly scored again at the buzzer after stealing the inbounds pass.
The Heat had seemingly controlled the game to that point, but were unable to shake the Bulls, whom they led 43-40 at halftime despite James' 16 ½-minute drought without a point.
Bosh led all scorers with 16 points at the half. Rose had 11 for the Bulls, but was just 4-for-12 shooting.
The Heat led 18-15 after the first quarter, with their Big 3 doing almost all of the damage. James had a eight points -- all in the first 6:17 -- Dwyane Wade had four and Bosh had three. Joel Anthony accounted for the rest of the Heat's scoring.
Rose was two-for-eight shooting for four points in the opening 12 minutes after shooting seven for 23 in the Game 2 loss in Chicago.
The league's MVP issued a statement before Sunday's game denying he recently told ESPN The Magazine that performance-enhancing drugs are a "huge" problem in the NBA -- seven on a scale of 10.
"Regarding the quote attributed to me in ESPN The Magazine, I do not recall making the statement nor do I recall the question being asked," Rose stated. "If that was my response to any question, I clearly misunderstood what was asked of me. But, let me be clear, I do not believe there is a performance-enhancing drug problem in the NBA."
Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game the matter was not a distraction to his team and deemed it "a non-story."