lebron james

A fast start and faster finish were enough to send the Miami Heat back to the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron James scored 23 points, Dwyane Wade added 18 and the Heat rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91 on Wednesday night and close out their second-round series in five games.

Chris Bosh scored 12 points and Udonis Haslem added 10 for Miami, which ran out to a 22-4 lead, then was outscored by a whopping 29 points over the next 27 minutes before recovering. The Heat outscored the Bulls 25-14 in the fourth.

Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who were without Derrick Rose for the 99th straight game. Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler missed potential tying 3-pointers on the final possession of the season for Chicago, which dropped the last four games of the series.

Robinson scored 21 points, Butler had 19, and Richard Hamilton 15 for the Bulls.

And there was drama, all the way to the end.

Robinson’s 3-pointer with 1:43 left got the Bulls to 94-91, and Butler knocked the ball away from Chris Bosh for a turnover on the ensuing Miami possession. But Boozer missed an open 15-footer with about a minute remaining and, when Wade knocked the ball off Boozer’s leg after a Miami miss with 45 seconds left, the Heat retained possession - with a fresh shot clock to boot.

But Miami didn’t score, and the Bulls had a final chance. Robinson missed a 3, and Butler faked his way free for a good look that hit the rim, before bouncing away.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press