NBA: Heat close out Bulls to advance

LeBron James finished with 23 points and eight assists as the Miami Heat held on after blowing an 18-point lead to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91 Wednesday and advance to the NBA semi-finals.

Dwyane Wade played through a nagging knee injury to finish with 18 points and six assists and Chris Bosh had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Heat, who won four straight games against the under-manned Bulls after dropping the opener in Miami.

"We knew right from the very beginning of this series that we would have to earn everything and that proved to be true," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.

The defending champion Heat will face either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks in the semis. The Pacers lead that quarter-final series 3-1 with game five set for Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

James also had seven rebounds for the Heat who reached their third straight Eastern Conference final series.

The injury-plagued Bulls had two chances in the final seconds to tie it, but Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler both missed from beyond the arc.

Carlos Boozer finished with a game high 26 points and 14 rebounds while Robinson had 21 points and Butler 19 for the Bulls, who played the entire series without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.

The have been decimated by injuries. Derrick Rose hasn't played since he tore his ACL in the first playoff game last season.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau blamed the loss on the injuries.

"Right now health," he said when asked what the difference in the series was. "That's the biggest thing. But they are a great team and you have to give them credit.

"They are not going to beat themselves. You have to beat them. You have to play well for 48 minutes."

Thibodeau said he had no regrets about not trying to bring Rose back for the series.

"If we were going to make a mistake we wanted to make the mistake on the side of caution," he said.

Miami's Wade has been plagued by knee troubles of late and only managed six points in game four. He rebounded Wednesday going seven-of-13 from the field and a perfect four-of-four from the foul line in the win.

"He finds a way to make big time plays. It's great to see him respond like that," Spoelstra said.