On the second night of a tough back-to-back set, the Miami Heat fought long and hard to give themselves a chance to beat Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls but a costly turnover with seconds left in the game instead turned into a 105-100 loss Saturday night.
Miami played much better than they did the previous night in Cleveland after a disastrous 30-point blowout loss, if that’s any consolation for a team that is now 10 games under .500. Hassan Whiteside bounced back with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots after getting benched in the third quarter against the Cavs, and Goran Dragic continued his strong, aggressive play as of late with a team-leading 21 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds. Josh McRoberts continues to improve his play as he gets his rhythm back while acclimating himself to many new teammates, but the replacement starters Wayne Ellington (7 points) and Rodney McGruder (0 points in 25 minutes didn’t make much of an impact overall.
Though only four players came off the bench, all had a positive impact on the game with Tyler Johnson and a healthy Josh Richardson providing much-needed scoring and solid play on both ends of the floor. Willie Reed has been playing very well as of late in support of Whiteside and he continued to shine against the Bulls, particularly in the fourth quarter. Derrick Williams was a little out of control at times but did contribute 10 points and 8 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Bulls didn’t play particularly well but featured two go-to scorers in Wade, who finished with 28 points and had 11 key points in the third quarter that helped turn the tide, and Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 31 points, to help lead the way in the second half after the two teams were tied 52-52 at halftime. Miami kept fighting back in crunch time to keep it close but Butler closed the game by scoring the last 10 points for his team to seal the victory after Johnson cut it to 97-96 with a 3-pointer with 4:20 left in the game before Butler responded with a three-point play.
Baskets by Dragic and Whiteside helped the Heat claw back to make it 101-100 with 13 seconds remaining and Butler again came back by hitting two clutch free throws. That’s when Dragic and Richardson committed the turnover that would cost the game and rob the Heat a chance to tie the game.
Miami next hosts the Washington Wizards on Monday night at AA Arena.