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Bulls one victory away from sweep of Heat

TIM REYNOLDS • Apr 28, 2007 at 9:21 AM

MIAMI - Andres Nocioni's quote was tacked above Shaquille O'Neal's seat in the Miami Heat locker room before the game, the key phrase marked in yellow highlighter.

"We will not sweep Miami," the Chicago Bulls forward said.

Nocioni might be wrong.

The Bulls are one win from sending the defending NBA champions home for the summer - in stunning style.

Ben Gordon scored 27 points, Luol Deng added 24 points and 11 rebounds and Chicago used a 15-2 fourth-quarter run to seize control of a 104-96 victory over the Heat in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Friday night.

Chicago leads the series 3-0 - a cushion no team has ever wasted in NBA history - and will go for the sweep in Miami on Sunday afternoon.

"We are outworking them right now," Bulls center Ben Wallace said. "I think we want it a little bit more than they want it."

Entering these playoffs, 78 teams had faced 0-3 deficits. The Heat need no one to tell them that all 78 have failed to win.

"Sunday, we've got to just come out and play," O'Neal said. "Our backs are definitely against the wall, but we can't give up now. ... It can be done. We just have to believe it."

The Heat trailed by nine points with 2:33 left and got within 99-96 on a jumper by Dwyane Wade about a minute later, but no closer. They led by 12 points in the third quarter, but misfired on 19 of their 35 free throw attempts and were outscored 32-17 over the final 11½ minutes.

"It's a different ballgame if we make them," Wade said. "But we haven't been a great free-throw shooting team all year."

Wade - who shed the black sleeve he was using to keep his left shoulder, the one he dislocated in February, warm - scored 28 points and O'Neal added 23 points and 13 rebounds for Miami.

But Wade was 4-for-10 from the foul line, O'Neal went 3-for-12 - and the rest of the Heat weren't much better.

Meanwhile, Chicago outrebounded Miami by a wide margin (44-33) for the third straight game, plus made 29 of 37 free throws.

Kirk Hinrich added 22 points for Chicago.

"Nobody has come back from 3-0, and we don't want to be the team that it's done against," Deng said. "That has to be something we're focused on - to know this team can really pick up how they play."

Antoine Walker had 12 points and James Posey scored 10 for Miami, which was 11-1 at home in last year's playoffs.

"Maybe this year, the test is the ultimate, ultimate, ultimate test," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We have to look at it that way."

Alonzo Mourning's hook shot early in the fourth quarter put Miami up 79-72, but from there it was all Chicago. The Bulls haven't won a playoff series since Michael Jordan led them to the 1998 NBA title; that drought seems like it's about to end.

"It's only one win. We know we have to win four instead of three," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "But in a game where we weren't playing that well and things weren't going our way, we were able to overcome it."

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