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March 27, 2013 at 11:58 PM
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Chicago ends Miami's historic win streak

CHICAGO, March 27 (UPI) -- Luol Deng led a balanced Chicago attack Wednesday that allowed the Bulls to end Miami's history-making run in a 101-97 victory over the Heat.

With just nine players able to take the court, Chicago still managed to bring a halt to the Heat's 27-game winning streak. It was the second longest in NBA history and Miami came up six victories short of equaling the all-time league record established by the Los Angeles Lakers more than four decades ago.

Chicago went into the fourth quarter with a one-point lead and then did what teams were unable to accomplish against the Heat during their amazing run -- fight them off down the stretch.

Miami made a habit of coming from behind during the streak, but even with LeBron James scoring 32 points the Bulls inched farther in front.

The Heat closed within five points with 1:22 to play, but Carlos Boozer then grabbed a key offensive rebound and made a layup. James promptly turned the ball over and Nate Robinson scored on a layup to give the Bulls a nine-point cushion with 30 seconds to play.

Chicago was already without Derrick Rose, who has undergone knee surgery, and they also were missing guard Marco Belinelli (abdomen) and center Joakim Noah (foot).

Deng scored 28 points, Boozer had 21 points to go with 17 rebounds and Jimmy Butler chipped in 17 points.

James hit 11-of-17 shots from the field, but the rest of the team could shoot just 43 percent. Miami grabbed a modest six offensive rebounds and they were 7-of-20 from 3-point range.

The Bulls won their third in a row. With Miami's run now over, the longest current active win streak in the NBA is six -- owned by the New York Knicks.

VCU keeps Smart as head coach

RICHMOND, Va., March 27 (UPI) -- Virginia Commonwealth Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin announced Wednesday Coach Shaka Smart would stay in charge of the school's basketball team.

Although details of the new contract were not announced, SI.com said the deal would pay Smart an average annual salary of $1.5 million and would extend through 2023.

"Coach Smart has demonstrated through this process that he is loyal to VCU and his greatest concern lies with our program moving forward every year," McLaughlin said.

"Our goal was to present him with a revised agreement proactively rather than wait for another institution to step in with an offer. I believe we accomplished our goal."

Smart had been mentioned in connection with newly-created job vacancies, including those at the University of Minnesota and UCLA.

Virginia Commonwealth went 27-9 this season, reaching the Atlantic 10 Championship title game and making it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Michigan.

The Rams have been to the NCAA tourney three straight years and reached the Final Four two seasons ago. Smart has put together a 111-37 record at the school.

Sharapova reaches Sony Open semis

MIAMI, March 27 (UPI) -- Maria Sharapova, a runner-up four times in this event, ground out a win over Sara Errani Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Sony Open.

Sharapova defeated Errani 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours, 29 minutes. It was a rematch of their French Open final from last year, which Sharapova also won.

Jelena Jankovic will meet Sharapova in the semifinals after outlasting Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3. The other semifinal match, which was set up Tuesday, will send Serena Williams against Agnieszka Radwanska.

Sharapova has won all four meetings with Errani and kept that record unblemished despite suffering 57 unforced errors and 13 double faults. The second-seeded Sharapova is trying to win her second straight tournament, having captured the title at Indian Wells two weeks ago.

Jankovic, who had not defeated a player ranked higher than 30th in the world this year until Wednesday, downed the 15th-ranked Vinci in 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Jankovic won the 13th championship of her career earlier this year in Colombia, but four of the five victories in that event came against players ranked 100th in the world or lower.

Sacramento approves NBA arena plan

SACRAMENTO, March 27 (UPI) -- The Sacramento City Council late Tuesday approved a financing plan for a new basketball arena that could head off the Kings' potential move to Seattle.

The council voted 7-2 in favor of a non-binding deal that would provide a $258 million public subsidy for the $448 million downtown arena.

"This is a good day for Sacramento," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. "We are on track to do something very historic."

The arena vote was a key development in a determined effort led by Johnson to find new ownership and new digs for the Kings. The Maloof family, the current owners of the Kings, have agreed to sell the franchise to Seattle interests; however Seattle would also need a new arena, and the sale has yet to be approved by the NBA.

The next step will come April 3 when a committee of NBA owners meets in New York to hear presentations from both cities ahead of a meeting by all NBA owners April 18-19.

The Sacramento Bee said opponents of the financing plan vowed Tuesday to continue their campaign against what they see as a giveaway that should be put up to a public vote.

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