Undermanned and unhealthy in the United Center, the Miami Heat needed everything they could get if they wanted to compete against the Chicago Bulls. With Goran Dragic (calf) and Hassan Whiteside (oblique strain) still out, somebody else would have to pick up the slack. Dwyane Wade answered the call as the 34-year-old turned back the clock and led the Heat with 28 points and seven rebounds in a close contest in Chicago.
While Miami was without two of their starters, Loul Deng (eye) made his return against the team he played 10 years for. Deng got his first two points on a powerful, healthy jam midway through the first making Miami feel comfortable. The Heat, however, still missed the presence of Hassan Whiteside. Chicago Bulls power forward Pau Gasol pounded the Heat in the first quarter, getting his way in the paint and grabbing boards. By the end of the period, Gasol had accumulated his 25th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a 23-18 start.
Welcome back Luol Deng. pic.twitter.com/TXhQsbHi4B— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) January 26, 2016
Amar'e Stoudemire, who replaced Whiteside in the starting lineup, didn't fare too bad in the post either. Stoudamire had a solid six points in the second quarter and helped Bosh quiet Gasol down. Wade inserted his energy in as well. Scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second quarter on a bevy of jump shots, Wade helped the Heat stay in the game. The trio of Stoudemire, Bosh and Wade played huge roles in turning up the intensity before halftime. They also connected on this end-to-end play (video below) to give the Heat a 49-47 lead heading into the break.
Great way to close a half! Defense ➡️ Offense (Fox Sports Sun) pic.twitter.com/k7Twz16WNS— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 26, 2016
Characteristically for Chicago, Derrick Rose (4 points) didn't start the third quarter with injury due to lower back and right hamstring issues as he'd sit out the rest of the game. Characteristically for Miami, their concentrated effort started to crumble and collapse as the Bulls went on a 13-2 run to open the second half. Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic would lead the turnaround on the offensive end while Miami faltered embarrassingly. The Bulls outscored the Heat, 21-12, in the third and went into the fourth with a 68-61 lead.
Already losers of seven of their last eight and quickly slipping in the standings, Wade understood the importance of winning the game. He'd go out and play like it in the final quarter too. The All-Star set the tone early in the fourth with a couple of buckets. Afterwards the Heat would go on a 9-0 run with Gerald Green knocking down an "and-one" to give the Heat the lead.
Tied at 84 with two and a half minutes to play, Wade would control the rest of the game. Driving into the lane and drawing the defense, the guard found Justice Winslow for an easy dunk underneath the rim. Gasol then tied the game again with a silky jumper over Bosh on the other end. Wade didn't hesitate a bit, taking it to rim again and kicking it out to an open Bosh for a basket. He'd save the best for last though. Up by two with 23 seconds to go, the future hall-of-famer took it back a few years with a step back, clutch jumper over the long arms of Gasol to seal the game. The Heat would go on to win, 89-84.
"I like winning in Chicago." pic.twitter.com/6i2TTTpdQ6— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 26, 2016
It was all Wade late. Without his tenacity at the end of the game, the Heat would have continued their losing ways. Instead, the Heat snap a four game losing and grabbed a vital win over the Bulls on the road. In addition to Wade's 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Bosh had 18 points and seven rebounds. Stoudemire put up a much-needed 8 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, rookie Winslow had a quiet, yet effective eight points, nine rebounds and four assists. It was the type of effort the Heat needed. They played faster and took care of the ball, aided by the return of point guard Beno Udrih. This was first time since Jan. 8 (vs Phoenix) that Miami had less turnovers than their opponent.
Getting it down on defense, the Heat were able to slow Gasol down after a monster first quarter as the forward finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds. The Heat were also able to contain rising star Jimmy Butler to just 15 points and ice his impact on the game. Nikola Mirotic added 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench and Aaron Brooks 13 points and six assists.
The Heat play the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow @ 7:30 PM.