MIAMI, May 15 (UPI) — Shane Battier ignited a fourth-quarter comeback Wednesday that pushed Miami into the Eastern Conference finals with a 94-91 win over Chicago.
The shorthanded Bulls gave the defending champion Heat a battle before coming up just short — missing a chance at overtime when both Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler failed on 3-point attempts in the closing 15 seconds.
Miami eliminated the Bulls in five games, winning four in a row after enduring a stunning setback in the opening game of the conference semifinal series last week.
The Heat will take on either Indiana or New York in the conference finals. Indiana owns a 3-1 lead against the Knicks and will try to close out New York on Thursday.
Miami raced to a 20-4 lead in a bid to put away the Bulls early, but Chicago fought back thanks to a big game from Carlos Boozer.
The Bulls owned a 10-point lead during the latter stages of the third period and were in front by eight heading into the final quarter.
Battier then scored eight points during the first 3:30 of the fourth, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and connecting on 2-of-3 free throws after being fouled on a long-range attempt.
His outburst helped bring the Heat within two and Miami took the lead for good at 82-81 on a dunk by Norris Cole with 5:51 to play.
A foul shot from LeBron James gave the Heat a six-point cushion with 1:55 left, but Miami did not score another point. Chicago closed within three with 1:43 to go on a 3-pointer by Robinson. The teams combined to miss five shots from that point until the final buzzer.
James scored 23 points and Dwyane Wade, who had been questionable with a knee injury, added 18. Battier produced just nine points, but he played a key role in moving the Heat closer to another league title.
Boozer scored 26 points and added 14 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler chipped in 19.
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