By Paul Ladewski, for NBA.com
Posted Friday May 27, 2011 1:06AM
CHICAGO -- FACTS: Experience has been a buzzword in these playoffs, and Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals was all of that again. As was the case in Game 4, Derrick Rose and the Bulls couldn't close the the deal in the final minutes, while LeBron James and the time-tested Heat made almost all the right moves. Once again, Rose (25 points, eight assists, five fouls) missed a crucial free throw down the stretch, one that would have tied the score with 26.7 seconds on the clock. Heat forward Chris Bosh calmly drained a pair of charity tosses, the final touches on a remarkable comeback that saw the visitors erase a 77-65 deficit in the final 3:14.
For three-plus quarters, it appeared that the series would be a brand new ballgame. In a replay of the series opener, the Bulls did the" dirty work," as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called it. They played smart, aggressive defense, controlled both backboards, received contributions from several players and led by as many 13 points.
James would have none of it, however, as he took the game by the throat. In the fourth quarter, he a dozen points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot. The big three of James (28), Bosh (20) and guard Dwyane Wade (21) accounted for all except 14 of their team's points.
QUOTABLE I: "Everything is on me -- turnovers, missed, shots, fouls ... If anything, I'll learn from it. That's all I can do right now. The series is over."
-- Derrick Rose
QUOTABLE II: "Our body language changed (in the fourth quarter). We got (defensive) stops and made shots."
-- LeBron James
STAT: Rose was the Most Valuable Player in the regular season, but he was no match for James in this series. The former two-time MVP averaged 25.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists in the five games, while the reigning one checked in at 23.4, 4.0 and 6.6, respectively.
QUOTABLE III: "We all want to prove that we're the best player on the court. We know what kind of player that LeBron is. We know how badly he wants to be in this situation. He's back in the NBA Finals. He carries that pain to have come up short before everywhere he goes. That will help him, and that will help us as a team."
-- Chris Bosh
STAT II: What's up with Dwayne Wade? That is certain to be a major story line before the NBA Finals. In the first half, he had one field goal and six turnovers. The man known as Flash showed flashes in the fourth quarter, when he scored 10 points, but his two-assist, nine-turnover performance did nothing to quiet talk about his sore left shoulder.
QUOTABLE III: "[The shoulder] isn't 100 percent -- never."
-- Dwyane Wade
TURNING POINT: In a 60-second span, Rose fouled Wade on a 3-pointer, missed an off-balance floater and threw an errant pass that led to nine consecutive points.
STAT III: Heat players were seen to flash zero smiles after the game.
QUOTABLE V: "Given everything that we've been through, this isn't our goal. This is a step. We'll play a very tough [Dallas] Mavericks team. They want to win just as badly as we do. There's no no time to celebrate. We have continue to work."
-- Chris Bosh
HOT: James smelled blood in the final two minutes, seven seconds, when he connected on a pair of 3-pointers and a two-pointer in as many tries.
HOT II: Prior to Game 5 against the Bulls last season, while he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James correctly predicted that their first-round series would not return to Chicago. Before Game 5 on Thursday night, he made the same remark.
NOT: Rose never did find his outside shot in the series. He misfired on 20-for-29 field goal tries in the series finale and shot only 35 percent (42-for-120) overall.
GOOD MOVE: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau decided to play Kurt Thomas for the first time in the series. The veteran forward responded with four points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter.
BAD MOVE: The Bulls led late in the third period, 58-46, when forward Carlos Boozer elbowed James in the face on a drive to the bucket. Boozer was assessed with a flagrant foul, James sank both free throws and the Heat got a wake-up call.
UP NEXT: The NBA Finals will open in Miami on Tuesday night (9 p.m. ET, ABC).