MIAMI -- Nearly an hour before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Derrick Rose found himself on the defensive. Facing a small knot of reporters at his locker, the NBA MVP denied telling ESPN the Magazine the league has a steroid problem. A distraction? Maybe. But Rose and his Chicago Bulls teammates were backpedaling for much of the night Sunday, and they lost to the Miami Heat 96-85 to fall behind in the series 2-1. After starting the season 4-0 against Miami, the Bulls have lost two in a row. For the first time since Feb. 5-7, theyve lost consecutive games. "Our will wasnt there tonight," Rose said. "Weve just got to find a way to win the next game." Smothering defence by the Heat and 34 points by Miamis Chris Bosh were too much for the Bulls to overcome. Also hurting Chicago was a slow start by Rose after he addressed reports the magazine quoted him as saying the NBA has a "huge" problem with steroids and needs "a level playing field." "Thats something I didnt say. I guess (the reporter) misunderstood what I said," Rose said. "On to the game." When it started, the Bulls were out of sorts. The opening tip went deep into their backcourt, and when Rose tried to gather the ball with his right hand, he dropped it out of bounds. Moments later, a steal by the Bulls was negated when the ball touched an official. The Bulls shot 6-for-24 while scoring only 15 points in the first quarter, and their frustration quickly became apparent. As centre Joakim Noah sat on the bench, TV cameras showed him directing what appeared to be an obscenity toward someone nearby. "I got caught up," Noah said. "A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize." Rose and Carlos Boozer were a combined 2-for-13 in the early going. Boozer came on strong after that and finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds, but Rose needed 19 shots against the Heat to score 20 points. "Every pick-and-roll, theyre doubling me," Rose said. "Ive just got to find a way to beat it." Chicago shot only 41.6 per cent and had eight shots blocked, including five by Montreals Joel Anthony. For the second game in a row, all five Bulls starters shot below 50 per cent, and sharpshooter Kyle Korver scored only three points off the bench against the Heat. "Theyre a very good defensive team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You have to try to get in transition and get some easy scoring opportunities." At the other end, the Bulls big defenders couldnt keep up with Bosh, who shot 13-for-18. When he slipped past Boozer for dunk in the fourth quarter, Bosh pounded his chest and shouted, "Come on!" The Heat keep coming. And now the Bulls, who had the NBAs best regular-season record, find themselves two losses from elimination. Game 4 is Tuesday in Miami. "We feel like we had chances to win both of these last two games," Boozer said. "Were not frustrated to the point where were not going to keep fighting. Thats not our character. We are a tough-minded team, a tough group of guys, and trust me, well be right back at it in Game 4." The Bulls shot poorly from the perimeter, and when they tried to penetrate, their path was usually cut off. Typical was a drive by Rose in the fourth quarter, when he lowered his shoulder, ran over Dwyane Wade and was called for offensive foul. A Heat breakaway with five minutes left further summed up the Bulls futility. LeBron James found himself in the open court against Korver, who backpedaled furiously, tried to grab James and instead fell at his feet as the Heat star scored for an 86-74 lead. Chicago, the leagues top defensive team this season, gave up 53 points in the second half. The Bulls tried to show spunk. Keith Bogans got into Wades face for some trash-talking in the third quarter, and Chicago briefly took the lead. But after Boozers dunk tied the game at 53, the Bulls failed to score on their next four possessions. Miami scored seven consecutive points, led the rest of the way and shot 50.7 per cent. "Youre going to miss shots," said Rose, who went 8-for-19. "But our defence was the key to the game. We call ourselves a defensive team. Fifty per cent is not going to work against a team like that." cheap jerseys
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. The team says Adriano will have to stay inside the hotel at the teams headquarters at least through the weekend, eating only what doctors give him and practicing three times a day.GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer didnt throw a pass in practice all last week, then completed practically every one he tried Sunday. So much for that sore right elbow. Palmer completed 27 of 32, 12 of them to Larry Fitzgerald, and the Cardinals ended an eight-game losing streak against NFC West foes by beating the St. Louis Rams 30-10. It was the second-highest completion percentage (84.4) in franchise history. Only Kurt Warners NFL record of 92.3 per cent (24 of 26) against Jacksonville in 2009 was better. Palmer said he had no idea what his statistics were, just that things were working at a nice clip. "When the plays were coming in I knew exactly where to go with the ball," he said. Palmer hurt his throwing elbow in last weeks loss at Philadelphia. From Monday on, trainer Tom Reed decided there would be no passing in practice. "I didnt throw one ball, and I was definitely worried about that," Palmer said, "but that was the plan." It worked to near perfection. Palmer threw for 269 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions as the Cardinals (8-5) won for the fifth time in six games. He was sacked once. "I cant say enough about where he is right now," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "The level hes playing is extremely high." Arizonas Karlos Dansby returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown and John Abraham tackled Kellen Clemens for a safety. Tavon Austins 56-yard run set up the only touchdown for the Rams (5-8), a 1-yard run by Zac Stacy. Austin injured his left ankle on the play and didnt return. The loss mathematically eliminated the Rams from post-season contention. The Cardinals lost rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu in the third quarter. Arians said it "appears to be an ACL" injury to his left knee. Arizona had not beaten an NFC West opponent since downing Seattle in the 2012 opener. The Cardinals lost three in a row this season, including 27-24 at St. Louis in the opener. Arians hammered that home last week. "I cant use the words he used," Dansby said. "My mom would get at me if I do that, but he let it be known that we were at the bottom of the totem pole and weve got to climb our way out." Fitzgeralds 12 catches went for 96 yards, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown.ddddddddddddIt was his most receptions since he matched his career high with 13 against Seattle on Oct. 18, 2009. Dansby had his second touchdown return of an interception in three games. He returned one 22 yards in Arizonas 40-11 rout of Indianapolis. Mathieu, the "Honey Badger" having a terrific rookie season, was hurt after returning the free kick that followed the safety in the third quarter. He jogged toward the Arizona bench but his knee buckled and he collapsed, then he was carted off the field. The Arizona safety came after a Cardinals punt was downed at the Rams 1. On third down from the 5, Clemens retreated to the end zone and was hit by Abraham, who had three sacks to give him 11 this season. Other than Austins big run, St. Louis managed just 44 yards on the ground in 18 attempts. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he was well aware how strong Arizonas defensive front was. "I thought we would do a better job than we did, but we couldnt run the football today," he said. In the first half, Palmer completed 16 of 17 for 169 yards and a touchdown. He would have had another TD had Jim Dray not fumbled at the half-yard line. Palmer completed his first 10 passes. Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in eight plays, Rashard Mendenhall scoring on a 3-yard run. The Rams responded with Greg Zuerleins 44-yard field goal. On St. Louis second play from scrimmage in the third period, Calais Campbell pressured Clemens. Dansby stepped in front of intended receiver Jared Cook, picked off the pass and ran untouched 23 yards to make it 21-3. Notes: Abraham moved past Lawrence Taylor and Leslie ONeal into ninth on the NFL career sacks list with 133. ... Dansby has four interception returns for scores for the Cardinals in two stints with the team. Only Aeneas Williams (six) and Larry Wilson (five) have more in franchise history. ... Arizona has outscored its last two opponents at home 70-21 and is 6-1 at home. ... The Rams were penalized 11 times for 90 yards. ... With his 10th TD catch of the season, Fitzgerald became the ninth player with double-digit touchdown receptions in five seasons. ' ' '