Carlos Boozer scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a surprisingly easy 107-87 home victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
The Bulls controlled Thursday night's contest at the United Center from start to finish, dominating the rebounding battle by a count of 49-27 and holding the normally efficient Heat to just 41.6 percent shooting from the field.
Luol Deng contributed 20 points and five assists for the Bulls, while center Joakim Noah had a big night with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
The Heat were led by superstar LeBron James, who scored 21 points but sat out most of the fourth quarter as the game got out of hand.
Miami was without James' main sidekick, Dwyane Wade, who was out with an illness, and its top per-minute rebounder, Chris Andersen, who missed the game for personal reasons.
The Bulls, however, are having to make do without star point guard Derrick Rose, who is out for the season after recently sustaining his second serious knee injury of the past 18 months.
Chicago improved to 8-9 and is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Heat fell to 14-5 and are three games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers.
In other action Thursday night around the NBA, the struggling New York Knicks won their crosstown showdown against the reeling Brooklyn Nets 113-83, and the L.A. Clippers routed the Memphis Grizzlies 101-81. EFE