NBA

LeBron James inspires Miami Heat to 3-1 series lead

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LeBron James was the star of the show once again as the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 88-65 to take a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

James piled on 27 points as the injury ravaged Bulls managed just 65 points on their home court to take a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series.

Carlos Boozer was Chicago's most impressive player, scoring 14 points with 12 rebounds, three steals and one assist.

Joakim Noah hauled in nine rebounds and Jimmy Butler added 12 points, but it was a terrible night for the Bulls - and for point guard Nate Robinson in particular.

The Bulls guard took 12 shots, missed all of them, and finished without a point.

For the Heat it was a relatively straightforward affair. They led by 11 at half-time, and outscored their opponents 17-9 in the third quarter to open up an unassailable advantage. 

But Heat forward Chris Bosh insisted it still wasn't an easy night for his side.

"We worked for it," Bosh told ESPN. "I never like to say that things are easy."

As the scores suggests, the Bulls offense was anaemic, but that can be largely credited to stingy defence from the Heat.

Erik Spoelstra's side held the Bulls to a playoff franchise low 25.7 per cent shooting - including 2 for 17 from behind the arc - while they shot 49 per cent themselves.

With Luol Deng and Derrick Rose still sidelined, the Bulls also had to do without Kirk Hinrich due to a calf injury.

"They're in a tough situation," said James. "They've had some injuries and illnesses and whatever's going on. They don't have their full roster, but that's not for us to worry about.

"They beat a very good Brooklyn team [in the first round] without their full roster."

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