After several close shaves and narrow escapes, this time the reigning champions couldn’t produce a late comeback. They trailed by double-digits in the opening quarter, came back to briefly lead by two in the third, and couldn’t even be counted out down in the closing minutes against a Bulls team which was down three starters.
But in the end, Luol Deng’s exquisite defence and 28 points, plus a series of clutch plays, overcame 32 points from LeBron James and the momentum of a run which began on February 3.
The 1972 Los Angeles Lakers spell of 33 undefeated games remains unbeaten. Deng knew exactly what the Bulls accomplished.
“It was huge,” said the Great Britain international. “We knew they were coming in playing unbelievable basketball. We knew it would take a lot of effort. We had some guys down. And we locked in.
“We know how good they are. But we know when we’re at our best, we can beat anybody. When we lock in like that. We’re hard to beat too.”
The Heat will now reset and set their sights on another slice of history: back-to-back titles. The second-longest spell of victories is still pretty good.
“We haven’t had a chance to really have a moment to know what we just did,” said James. “We had a moment, just very fortunate, very humbling and blessed to be part of this team and be part of a streak like that.”
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