AL HAMNIK: Miami win streak in jeopardy tonight vs. Bulls

2013-03-26T17:45:00Z 2013-03-29T00:13:06Z AL HAMNIK: Miami win streak in jeopardy tonight vs. BullsAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 26, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

What were you doing on Feb. 3?

Most of us were busy coping with our everyday duties, responsibilities and pressures.

It's called a j-o-b.

But on that day, the Miami Heat began its incredible NBA odyssey — a 27-game win streak — that should be in jeopardy with tonight's stop in Chicago.

Why's that?

Because 16 of the Heat's 27 consecutive wins have come against teams with losing records, that's why.

Miami and Chicago both have shown they can win without key personnel, which contenders must do.

The Bulls beat division-leading Indiana on Saturday night without Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton — whom we may never see again this season — and Joakim Noah.

Nazr Mohammed filled in admirably for Noah while Daequan Cook made a difference off the bench, where he had been collecting dust.

It's hard to hit a game-winning shot while sitting down, but teammates expect each other to carry their weight when given the chance.

"You look at Daequan, coming from the teams he was playing on. In this league, it's all about confidence," Taj Gibson said. "Nazr's presence speaks for itself. He won a championship (in San Antonio), played on numerous great teams and is always ready to go."

If Noah's aching feet allow him to play tonight, the Bulls could steal one and no one should be shocked.

They have something to prove to critics predicting an early playoff exit for coach Tom Thibodeau's boys.

"Every single victory counts," Gibson said after beating Indiana. "It's a confidence boost because right now we're down a lot of guys, so we'll just keep fighting with whoever we have out there."

Miami is seven wins shy of breaking the 1971-72 Lakers' long-standing league record and the Bulls would love to play spoiler in a season where they haven't had much to thump their chests about.

If Dwyane Wade misses his third consecutive game with a foot bruise, you like the Bulls' chances even more.

Of course, Miami still has the unstoppable LeBron James, who's having an MVP season and can beat you single-handedly most nights.

In Monday's win against Orlando, James just missed his 37th career triple-double. He was in perfect position in the final minutes to grab his 10th rebound — but Orlando's E'Twaun Moore nailed the shot.

"I'm going to go down as the almost-triple-double king," James joked to reporters afterward.

He finished with 24 points, 11 assists and nine boards.

Blame East Chicago's E'Twaun Moore.

Tonight's prime-time game will likely draw a media crowd more suited for the postseason, and that could provide an added spark for a Bulls team that has lost six of its last nine games.

"That's the way we have to play. We have to do it collectively," Thibodeau said Saturday night.

Maybe we'll see Derrick Rose, preferably in uniform.

Just kidding. Just kidding.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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