Jimmy Butler scored 22 points, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Hero added 19 points, and the first-placed Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 127-109 on Saturday night.
Pam Adebayo scored 16 to end Miami’s 1 1/2 game lead over second-placed Milwaukee. The Heat went on to secure a home stadium advantage in the first round of the post-season. And if they go 3-1 the rest of the way, they’ll snatch the top seed in the East.
The way they were reeling a week ago, it’s a huge transformation. They bounced back from the loss to Brooklyn, then beat off struggling Sacramento and made it to Boston before making their way with Chicago.
“I think we had a little bit of a rut, which most teams go through at some point in the season,” Lowry said. “I think it was a chance for us to sort things out and communicate a little better.”
The 50-28 hotshot competition also reached the 50-win limit for the first time since the 2013-14 season. They may have had two years ago, when they went 44-29 in the pandemic shortened season and advanced to the NBA Finals.
“It just shows you, even when you feel like you have the culture and you’re doing things right, it’s hard to consistently win in this league,” coach Eric Spoelstra said. “When you have to retool and rebuild new teams and rosters, it is difficult. The league is really competitive.”
beating in heat
Miami had a nine-point lead over the break, breaking it in the third quarter. The Heat scored 53.7% in the match and made 17 of 34 three-pointers.
Butler, the former bull, scored seven rebounds and six assists. Herro had a strange stat streak, matching the season’s high by nailing 6 of 7 3s, including three in the third. But it was 0 for 9 on 2 attempts.
DeWayne Deadmon added 14 points, and the Heat won their third in a row.
“We have a long way to go to get to their level,” said Bulls coach Billy Donovan.
Another loss for the elite
Zach Lavigne led the Chicago team with 33 points. DeMar DeRozan finished with 26, although he shot 6 of 18, and the Bulls lost again to an elite opponent. Chicago 2-19 combined against the top four teams of the East and West.
The sixth-placed Bulls lost half a game, four games behind Toronto. Chicago, which led the conference for part of the season, is trying to stay in the top six and avoid playing on the tour.
The Heat were leading 66-57 in the first half after Lowry made three free throws in the final seconds. Hiro heated up third, scoring nine goals and scoring 3 in the last minute to make the score 98-79.
The Heat plays in Toronto on Sunday, and it will be Laurie’s first time playing there since joining Miami last summer. Lowry is still loved in Toronto after helping the Raptors win the 2019 NBA title, and he said it would be emotional. He said, “I’m nervous. At the same time, I’m excited. It’s going to be a great moment. I told the guys I gave them a good game today, but I don’t know what I’m going to give them (Sunday). Emotionally, I might not be there. But it’s going to be a great day.”
Heat: The Heat has 10 winning seasons 50. … F Caleb Martin (bruised right calf), G/F Max Strus (bruised right shoulder), and G Gabe Vincent (bruised right big toe) were available. After they were listed as suspect.
Bulls: F Alex Caruso sat out part of the third quarter due to back spasms. “Nothing is long lasting,” Donovan said. …the G Lonzo Ball (left knee) won’t start running and cutting until early in the week. Donovan said Bulls’ personality will have a better handle on his situation on Tuesday or Wednesday. “They are building it slowly right now,” he said. “We’re about to get to that point from what they told me.” Paul underwent surgery in January to repair a meniscus tear. … Saturday marked the 15th anniversary of Donovan coaching Florida to win the NCAA Championship over Ohio State and repeat the title.
Heat: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
Bulls: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.