CHICAGO - In the aftermath of the Miami Heat having their 27-game win streak snapped by the Chicago Bulls, the defending champions began putting their run in perspective and focusing on an NBA title repeat.
Britain's Luol Deng scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds and passed off five assists to spark the Bulls over Miami 101-97 on Wednesday, ending the second-longest win streak in NBA history and major North American team sport.
"It has been one of the best that this league has ever seen," Heat superstar playmaker LeBron James said.
"We haven't had a chance to really have a moment to know what we just did. We had a moment, just very fortunate, very humbling and blessed to be part of this team and be part of a streak like that."
The Heat fell six games shy of the NBA's all-time longest win streak, the 33 consecutive victories by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
In defeat, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra brought up the streak for the first time after avoiding mentions during the run of a topic that was on the lips of reporters more and more as the run continued.
"For the first time, I mentioned the streak in front of the guys," Spoelstra said. "It was worthy of at least stepping back for those few short moments. It was a heck of an experience for all of us to have together.
"We will understand, probably more so later on in our careers, the significance of that. And then that was it. We took that moment to acknowledge it, to acknowledge each other, that experience, but it was never about the streak. We have a bigger goal.
"Right now, it's about 'Are we getting better?'"
The spurt lifted the Heat to the best record in the NBA at 56-15, one win from clinching a home-court edge throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and ahead of Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the fight for a home-court edge all the way through the NBA Finals.
"I'm glad it's over," said Dwyane Wade, who returned to the Heat lineup after missing two games with a sore right knee and gave no hint he would miss Miami's next game on Friday at New Orleans.
"It will be a little sore, but it is what it is," Wade said.
James scored 32 points while Wade made 18 in the team's first loss since February 1 at Indiana.
James was unhappy at the physical style of play used against him, bumping and hard fouls that disrupted him at times.
"It's frustrating," James said. "Those are not basketball plays."
The Bulls lacked center Joakim Noah and guards Richard Hamilton and Marco Belinelli as well as star Derrick Rose, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury.
"It doesn't matter who's playing on either side," Spoelstra said. "The last two years when these two teams come together it's very competitive."
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