CHICAGO (AP) — La racha de triunfos consecutivos del Heat quedó cortada el miércoles en un total de 27, luego que Miami cayó por 101-97 ante los Bulls de Chicago, pese a un intento desesperado de LeBron James y compañía por remontar el marcador.

James dijo que no era vergonzoso haberse quedado cortos.

"Es una de las mejores que ha visto alguna vez esta liga", señaló James en referencia a la cadena de triunfos consecutivos que inició el 3 de febrero. "Lo valoramos y merecidamente", agregó.

El Heat se quedó a seis partidos del récord impuesto por los Lakers de Los Angeles en la temporada 1971-72.

Luol Deng anotó 28 puntos, Carlos Boozer agregó 21 unidades y 17 rebotes, y los Bulls detuvieron el intento del Heat de hacer historia en la NBA.

El súper astro de Miami hizo todo lo que pudo para mantener la racha, anotando 32 unidades e incluso recibiendo una falta flagrante durante unos minutos finales de mucho contacto físico.

"No hemos tenido oportunidad de tener realmente un momento para conocer lo que acabamos de hacer", dijo James. "Tuvimos un momento, sencillamente muy afortunado, muy aleccionador y dichoso de ser parte de este equipo y de ser parte de una racha como esa".

El Heat no había perdido desde que los Pacers los derrotaron en Indianápolis el 1 de febrero. Pero después de conseguir recientemente algunas victorias muy reñidas, incluido un repunte de una desventaja de 27 puntos en Cleveland, nadie los daba por derrotados hasta que sonara el final del juego.

Durante la mejor parte de dos meses, fueron los reyes de la recuperación en la NBA. Borraron desventajas de dos dígitos en siete ocasiones durante su cadena de triunfos consecutivos. En 11 ocasiones se encontraron con desventaja en el cuarto período, y ganaron.

No el miércoles.

Y cuando salieron de la cancha en Chicago, los rostros lucían estoicos mientras los jugadores del Heat caminaban lentamente hacia los vestidores. James volteó y miró enojado a un aficionado que lo toco en la cabeza.

Los Bulls, entretanto, gritaban de alegría y daban palmadas en las manos a cualquiera que estuviera al alcance.

"Es un momento de reflexión de cinco segundos antes de que sigamos con el resto de la temporada", dijo Dwyane Wade. "Interiormente, no se sintió como si estuviéramos en una racha asombrosa", agregó.

Aunque fue una tremenda racha.

La marca de victorias seguidas del Heat queda registrada como la segunda más larga en la historia de los deportes profesionales de Estados Unidos.

La racha ganadora inició el domingo del Super Bowl en Toronto, un día en que los jugadores del Heat estaban ligeramente molestos por tener que perderse el juego por el título de la NFL. Cuando San Francisco y Baltimore iban a jugar, el Heat tenía que volar a casa para para un juego la siguiente noche.

Entonces directivos del equipo cambiaron la agenda sorpresivamente.

Miami derrotó a Toronto esa tarde, luego permanecieron en la ciudad varias horas más para mirar el Super Bowl juntos, un acontecimiento acentuado por un discurso no planificado de Shane Battier sobre valorar pequeños momentos como un equipo.

Por alguna razón, el Heat se mantuvo invicto durante casi los siguientes dos meses.

Y ganaron juegos de varias formas diferentes.

Vencieron a buenos equipos como los Clippers de Los Angeles Clippers, el Thunder de Oklahoma City y los Bulls, luego inexplicablemente tuvieron problemas con Cleveland, Detroit, Sacramento, Charlotte y Orlando. Superaron una desventaja de 13 puntos en los ocho minutos finales para derrotar a Boston, una de 27 unidades en el tercer cuarto en Cleveland, y déficits de 11 puntos contra Detroit y Charlotte, todo ello nada menos que en un lapso de siete días.

"Hay varios equipos que pueden hacerlo", dijo el jugador perimetral español de los Pistons José Calderón, cuando se le preguntó que se necesitaría para vencer a Miami. "Es difícil mantener esta concentración cada día. Probablemente se requerirá que todos tengan un mal día", agregó.

Incluso cuando ocurrieron esos días malos, el Heat encontró maneras para ganar: un enceste de James al sonar el fin del juego contra Orlando. Doble tiempo extra contra Sacramento. Enormes remontadas. Lo que fuera.

"Para realizar algo como esto, todos deben redoblar esfuerzos", dijo Battier, quien fue parte de una cadena de 32 victorias consecutivas en Duke, una de 22 juegos seguidos con los Rockets de Houston y ahora participó en este épico esfuerzo del Heat.

Pat Riley, presidente del Heat, jugó para el equipo de los Lakers que ganó 33 juegos seguidos, y permaneció en silencio durante la racha de Miami, principalmente porque en la actualidad rara vez da entrevistas, pero además porque la postura oficial del equipo era que simplemente no importaba. Esta temporada es de obtención del campeonato o de fracaso para Miami: sólo será satisfactoria si levantan de nuevo el Trofeo Larry O'Brien.

"Comprendo la historia del juego", dijo James después de que la racha llegó a 25 triunfos consecutivos. "Valoro la historia del juego. Pero este equipo tiene una meta más grande que ganar una cifra de juegos seguidos", enfatizó.

En otros resultados de la jornada: Boston derrotó por 93-92 a Cleveland; Charlotte por 114-108 a Orlando; Filadelfia por 100-92 a Milwaukee; Atlanta por 107-88 a Toronto; Nueva York por 108-101 a Memphis; e Indiana por 100-91 a Houston.

Los Lakers de Los Angeles superaron a Minnesota por 120-117; los Clippers de Los Angeles a Nueva Orleáns por 105-91; Oklahoma City a Washington por 103-80; San Antonio a Denver por 100-99; Utah a Phoenix por 103-88; Sacramento a Golden State por 105-98; y Brooklyn a Portland por 111-93.

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