Heat streak comes to an end; LeBron frustrated by hard fouls

Image: Yahoo! SportsThe streak that some thought may never end, finally did.

The Miami Heat ran out of magic and dropped last night’s game to the Chicago Bulls, 101-97, putting an end to their 27-game win streak.

As they did a number of times over the past two months, the Heat fell behind by double-digits in the first half, only to come roaring back in the second half and take the lead. This time though, the Bulls did not just roll over.

They hit back hard, both figuratively and literally.

The second biggest storyline from the game was LeBron James’ complaints afterwards that the Bulls were fouling him too hard.

“First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground,” James said. “The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays."

Funny enough, the only flagrant foul from last night’s game was called on LeBron.

Clearly frustrated that the foul on Gibson was actually downgraded to a personal foul after replay review, James elbowed Carlos Boozer in the face while fighting through a screen. A season’s worth of hard hits finally got the best of his emotions.

"It's been happening all year,” James said, “and I've been able to keep my cool and try to tell (Coach Erik Spoelstra), 'Let's not worry about it too much.' But it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul, whatever the case may be. It's tough. It's tough. It's very tough, and I'm not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression, and I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to … I don't know. It's frustrating."

David Banks/Getty Images/ZimbioIf you are not a fan of LeBron, it is easy to just tell him to shut up and stop whining. But if you think about it, he probably has a point.

LeBron James is the best player in the NBA right now, not even close. Opposing teams are going to do whatever they can to try and slow him down. If that means hitting him a little harder on fouls and hoping they get away with it, then that is what they are going to do.

It will be interesting to see how things go from now on.

Will officials hear LeBron’s complaints so that he will start getting a little more protection? Will teams ease up a little bit for fear of flagrant foul calls or suspension?

My guess is no on both counts, but it is something to keep an eye on.

As for the end of the win streak, I am not going to launch into some big long sermon about how it is “good for the team” and “the pressure is off, so they can finally focus on another title.” I like watching teams make history and it would have been cool to see the Heat go after the Lakers’ all-time record. But it is over, time to move on.

Image: Yahoo! Sports

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