Bulls forward Jimmy Butler bows his head before heading to the huddle during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 88-65 loss to the Miami Heat in game four of the Eastern Conference semifinal Monday May 13, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 14, 2013 6:34AM
Before Game 4, the Bulls talked the talk about aggressiveness. ‘‘It’s our only chance,’’ Joakim Noah and Tom Thibodeau both had said, reading from the same script.
The trouble was, when the ball was tipped, the Bulls flubbed their lines. The chippy stuff, the refuse-to-lose aggressiveness that they brought in the first three games of this series was conspicuously absent in the 88-65 loss.
‘‘We didn’t play well tonight,’’ Joakim Noah said. ‘‘Our energy wasn’t good. Mentally, we were a little drained because we weren’t hitting shots. We can’t let that happen. We have to be ready to fight through that.’’
Even with a feisty effort, it was going to be tough to overcome Miami’s skill. Without it, the Bulls were in an impossible situation.
‘‘Our energy was terrible,’’ Taj Gibson said. ‘‘Especially for a playoff game. Our energy sucked.’’
Showing why he’s the NBA’s MVP, LeBron James notched 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. James and Chris Bosh, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, were a combined 16-for-30 from the field.
‘‘It’s tough,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘If people understood how tough it is. ... you’re going against your rival. There’s no tick-tack fouls. Everything’s physical.
‘‘We’re grinding right now. But there’s no excuses. Whoever’s out there has to get the job done. We’ve been playing shorthanded all season. We can’t make excuses now.’’
While the Heat was shooting 48 percent, the Bulls shot 26 percent. That’s not going to get it done.
No Bull had a tougher night than Nate Robinson. The hero of the Brooklyn series — the biggest reason the Bulls advanced to this shot at the Heat — was 0-for-12.
‘‘If I make half [my] shots, we’re in the game,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘You have games like that, where you just can’t make a shot. You just have to keep fighting.’’
In a pivotal fourth game, needing a win to avoid falling behind 3-1 in this series, the Bulls provided virtually no spark to a crowd of 21,990 that was ready to be a tinder box.
‘‘It’s basketball,’’ Noah said. ‘‘Sometimes shots don’t go your way. We didn’t execute. We’re disappointed. But we have to forget about it and move on.’’
With nothing to cheer, the disappointed Chicago crowd had to be content with booing James. Which is pretty much an exercise in frustration.
‘‘We just go out there and fight,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘We’re known for that.’’