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Saturday, April 21, 2012

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Call to arms: Miami's Shane Battier (31) and Joel Anthony (50) foul Chicago's Joakim Noah during the Heat's 83-72 win on Thursday. AP

Heat display moxie in tough win over Bulls


MIAMI — The earliest Miami and Chicago could meet again is Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Good thing. The tempers could use a little time to cool down. And after a game filled with shoves and takedowns, the race for the No. 1 seed in the East is still going strong.

LeBron James had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 18 points and Miami tightened up the race in the East by beating the Bulls 83-72 on Thursday night in a scuffle-filled win that pulled the Heat within 1½ games of Chicago in the conference standings.

"This is what the postseason is all about," James said. "Both teams struggling to score offensively, and defensively, two very good defensive teams. It's a possession game. That's what happens in the postseason. . ."

Mario Chalmers scored 16 points and Udonis Haslem grabbed 10 rebounds for Miami, which held the Bulls to a season-low point total. Chicago had been 23-0 this season when holding teams to 86 points or less.

John Lucas scored 16 points for the Bulls, who were again without reigning MVP Derrick Rose because of injuries. Joakim Noah had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Luol Deng added 11 points and Carlos Boozer had 10 for Chciago, which split four games with Miami this season.

The teams combined for four individual technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and Miami reserve James Jones was ejected.

But above all else, Miami decided this one with defense.

Suns 93, Clippers 90

In Phoenix, Steve Nash hit a crucial driving layup, then made two free throws for the deciding points and the Suns bolstered their playoff hopes.

Pacers 118, Bucks 109

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 29 points to help Indiana clinch home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Hornets 105, Rockets 99 (OT)

In New Orleans, Eric Gordon scored 27 points and Carl Landry had 20 points and 10 rebounds as the hosts dealt a blow to Houston's playoff hopes by handing the Rockets their sixth straight loss.

Timberwolves 91, Pistons 80

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Nikola Pekovic scored 23 points and Minnesota ended an 11-game losing streak.

SMU hires Brown


DALLAS — Larry Brown is returning to college to get back into coaching.

The 71-year-old Hall of Fame coach was hired Thursday at SMU. It is his first college job in nearly a quarter century, and comes at a struggling program that is headed to the Big East after next season.

"It's a challenge like everything. The greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity," Brown said by phone from his home in Philadelphia.

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