Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah dominated the boards in the Chicago Bulls' 96-89 victory over the Miami Heat, exposing their rival's lack of a rebounding big man.
Boozer grabbed 12 boards, including six offensive rebounds, while Noah recorded an identical tally as the Bulls won the rebounding battle Friday night by a margin of 48-28.
Reserve forward Taj Gibson also added nine rebounds for Chicago, three more than any Miami player.
The Bulls had 19 offensive rebounds to just four for the Heat and that translated into numerous second chances and a big differential in field-goal attempts.
For the game, the Bulls shot a slightly lower percentage from the field (45 percent to 46 percent) but their 15 extra field-goal tries (80-65) proved decisive in the victory at American Airlines Arena, where Miami lost for just the third time this season.
Boozer led the Bulls in scoring with 27 points and Noah and reserve guard Nate Robinson added 13 points each.
The defending champion Heat were led as usual by reigning MVP LeBron James, who scored 30 points and had a team-high six rebounds but dished out just two assists.
Dwyane Wade added 22 points and the other member of the "Big Three," Chris Bosh, scored 14, but no other Heat player scored in double figures and sharp-shooting reserve guard Ray Allen had just five points on just three shot attempts.
James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami prior to the start of the 2010-11 season to give the Heat the most star-studded line-up in the league. But despite reaching the finals in their first season together and winning the championship last June, the Heat still have concerns about their lack of size and rebounding prowess.
Despite the loss, the Heat continue to lead the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 22-9, while the Bulls are in a tie for fourth place in the East with a record of 18-13.
The Bulls are in the playoff hunt despite the absence of star point guard and 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose, who participated this week in a workout with his team for the first time since tearing his ACL on April 28.
In other NBA action Friday night, the Los Angeles Clippers continued to assert their contender status by knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers 107-102, the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Charlotte Bobcats 106-104, the Sacramento Kings topped the Toronto Raptors 105-96 and the Brooklyn Nets scraped past the Washington Wizards 115-113 in double overtime.
The Detroit Pistons held off the Atlanta Hawks 85-84, the Portland Trail Blazers surprised the Memphis Grizzlies 86-84, the Boston Celtics routed the Indiana Pacers 94-75, the Oklahoma City Thunder trounced the Philadelphia 76ers 109-85, the Houston Rockets cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 115-101 and the Utah Jazz topped the Phoenix Suns 87-80. EFE