MIAMI — Twelve seconds into the Heat’s 115-78 victory over the Bulls, Udonis Haslem delivered a foul that sent Nate Robinson back to his college football days and down hard to the American Airlines Arena court.
The Bulls knew right after their stunning Game 1 victory that the Heat would produce a more impassioned effort on Wednesday night. Nine technical fouls, two ejections, one flagrant foul and 19 LeBron James’ points later, they got their answer.
The Bulls lost a game and their composure, suffering the largest margin of defeat in franchise playoff history and having Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson ejected by official Scott Foster in a flurry of technicals at the 10 minute, 12 second mark of the fourth quarter.
This was no day at South Beach. In fact, about all this one lacked was Thibodeau joining one of the many scrums to latch onto James’ leg, a la when mentor Jeff Van Gundy did the same to Alonzo Mourning during a Knicks-Heat series in 1998.
Gibson, who didn’t leave the court in a timely fashion and continued to hurl profanity at Foster, has a chance of getting suspended for Friday’s Game 3 — and certainly fined. And this is with the Bulls expected to be without Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose as well.
The venom is officially flowing.
The Bulls’ previous worst loss in franchise playoff history was 26 points.
James tallied 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds in just 32 minutes, setting the tone with a dominant first half. Ray Allen led the Heat with 21 points.
James was James, making his first six shots on all layups or dunks and, as expected, switching at times onto Robinson, who was scoreless in the first quarter.
Nine seconds after Haslem opened the proceedings with his hard foul on Robinson, Wade drew a technical for throwing the ball at Marco Belinelli when Belinelli wrapped him up on a fast break. Later in the first, Noah and James traded elbows and technicals.
Early in the second, Chris Andersen delivered a flagrant-one on Belinelli. Even rookie Marquis Teague got in the act, drawing a technical for shoving Norris Cole. When Daequan Cook wrapped up James on a breakaway, Andersen sprinted into the ensuing scrum and knocked some bodies around.
Robinson even drew a technical when the teams were entering a timeout. Meanwhile, in actual game action, Cole sank back-to-back 3-pointers as the Heat closed the first half with a 13-3 run that later extended to 32-9.
Cook — gulp — guarded James in stretches because Jimmy Butler exited for the first time in 160 minutes, 41 seconds with foul trouble.
In the third, Mario Chalmers drew a technical that could merit league discipline — fine or suspension — because he grabbed Noah around the neck. And the Heat was on to the tune of a 30-15 quarter advantage.