Heat, Grizzlies advance to Conference Finals

Houston, May 16 (EFE).- The defending NBA champion Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies scored hard-fought Game 5 victories to win their respective Conference Semifinal series 4-1 and advance to penultimate round of this year's playoffs.

The Heat secured a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals by overcoming the stubborn, injury-hit Chicago Bulls 94-91 at the American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night.

LeBron James once again led the way for the Heat, scoring 23 points on 5-of-14 shooting and also dishing out eight assists and hauling down seven rebounds.

Dwyane Wade, who was doubtful for Game 5 because of a bruised right knee, was the key factor down the stretch for Miami and finished the game with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds.

The game featured several momentum swings.

The Heat raced out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and appeared ready to record a fourth straight lopsided victory.

But the Bulls, who have played all season without 2010-2011 league MVP Derrick Rose and also were missing two other injured regulars, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng, showed pride in battling back to take the lead at halftime and hold it until the fourth quarter.

The Heat had too much firepower over the final 12 minutes, however, outscoring Chicago 25-14 to put the game away.

Carlos Boozer was the key figure for the Bulls, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Diminutive point guard Nate Robinson added 21 in a losing effort for the Bulls, whose only win in the series came in Game 1 in Miami.

In the other playoff game Wednesday night, the Grizzlies went on the road to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and clinch that Western Conference Semifinal series 4-1.

Forced to make do without injured point guard Russell Westbrook since midway through their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, the Thunder lacked the weapons to match up with the Grizzlies and their stingy defense.

The Heat will square off against either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers lead the Knicks 3-1.

The Grizzlies are waiting on the winner of the series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs hold a 3-2 lead.