Shaq held to 8 points as Bulls cut series lead to 2-1

CHICAGO (AP) -- Instead of looking like his old self, Shaquille
O'Neal simply looked old, flustered and frustrated.

O'Neal had one of his worst playoff performances, and the
Chicago Bulls took advantage, beating the Miami Heat 109-90 on
Thursday night in a game that got heated in the end.

The Bulls pulled within 2-1 in the first-round series and host
Game 4 on Sunday.

"I guess we were just out of it today," O'Neal said.

He finished with eight points and four rebounds. He had one
basket through the first three quarters and scored six meaningless
points in the fourth, narrowly missing his career playoff low.
O'Neal had seven points against Houston on April 19, 2004.

After averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the first two
games, O'Neal picked up his third foul just over three minutes into
the second quarter and spent the rest of the half on the bench.

Miami's James Posey was ejected with 3:15 left after knocking
down Kirk Hinrich on a fast break and receiving a flagrant foul
two. Six seconds later, Antoine Walker fouled out and got called
for a technical foul. So did Udonis Haslem, who served a one-game
suspension for throwing his mouthpiece toward an official in the
series opener.

The Bulls went 3-of-4 from the free throw line during the
commotion, but the game was already out of reach.

"He thought we had an advantage and wanted to make a hard
foul," Hinrich said. "It's just part of the game. Just got to
take it."

Posey said he did not foul Hinrich out of frustration. He was
simply trying to get back on defense, and Hinrich did not see him.

"He didn't see me, first of all," said Posey, who faces a fine
and possible suspension. "So anything like that -- a guy coming
from the side -- a collision will happen like that. That's all it

Miami coach Pat Riley did not rush to his players' defense

"Maybe something happened at the other end, but I don't like
that," he said of Posey's foul. "There's got to be some dignity
in the game. The game was a very physical game. Both teams were
playing hard."

And Riley said this about the commotion: "When you're getting
your (butt) kicked, you take it. You get on to Game 4; that's what
it's about. They were very good, and they were kicking our (butt).
And we began to look at the officials. That's something we don't
want to do."

Chicago's Ben Gordon scored 24 points after being held to 13 in
Game 2 on Monday, and Hinrich finished with 22 points and 11
assists. Luol Deng scored 21, and Andres Nocioni contributed 19
points and nine rebounds.

After a 3-pointer by Walker cut the Bulls' lead to 59-56 with
7:25 left in the third quarter, Hinrich and Gordon responded with
back-to-back 3s and the Heat never threatened after that.

Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 26 points and Jason Williams added

Riley was on the sideline after attending his mother's funeral
in upstate New York on Wednesday. Mary Riley was 96 when she died
last week.

"It's not easy," Riley said. "It's something you don't want
anybody to go through. You deal with life, and in this situation,
you deal with the other side of it. It takes a toll."

After being outscored by a 52-30 average in the paint the first
two games, things certainly did not look better for the Bulls with
Alonzo Mourning returning from a torn right calf. In his first game
since March 22, Mourning grabbed two rebounds and did not score in
eight minutes.

With O'Neal a non-factor, the Bulls outscored the Heat 40-32 in
the paint after being dominated there in the first two games. They
also established themselves early on for the first time this
series, building a 48-42 halftime lead, after being outscored a
combined 131-108 in the first half of Games 1 and 2.

"It took us out of our offense because I didn't play that
much," said O'Neal, who committed five fouls.

Riley said the Bulls did a "much better job of leveraging" the
big man and added, "I still think it's a sumo wrestling match down

The Heat were 30-for-72 from the field, after hitting half their
shots in the first two games. On defense, they could not stop the
penetration -- with and without Shaq.

And in the end, the tempers flared. Mourning thought his
teammates were too concerned about the referees' calls -- and

"We can't look at them," Mourning said. "We've got to go out
there and do it ourselves. We're foolish if we're trying to look at
the referees."

What about the offense?

"We've got to stop worrying about the offense, too," Mourning
said. "Our biggest concern should be our defense."

Game notes
The Bulls won the three previous playoff series against the
Heat. ... The Heat ranked third and the Bulls fifth on the NBA's
list of most popular team merchandise. Results are based on sales
at the NBA Store in New York and at NBAstore.com. ... Bulls F Malik
Allen started after missing practice Tuesday and Wednesday with
back spasms. ... Michael Jordan received a standing ovation in the
fourth quarter when the scoreboard video showed him in a luxury