Perhaps Dwyane Wade wasn’t expecting that his current team and his former team would be headed in opposite directions more than halfway through the regular season. Especially when considering that the Miami Heat are without Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson — and Hassan Whiteside sat out Friday night, too.
But that’s exactly what happened Friday, as the Heat dominated the second half against a team marred by bickering and infighting to defeat the Bulls 100-88 and win their sixth straight game. This current winning streak marks Miami’s longest streak since the 2013-14 season, the last year of the Big Three era.
Moreover, the Bulls currently hold the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Friday’s win puts Miami just five-and-a-half games behind Chicago for that spot, and eight of the Heat’s next nine games are against sub-.500 teams.
Goran Dragic took advantage of some porous Bulls defense to catalyze the Heat to victory. He either created for himself — and he finished with 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field, mostly thanks to his dribble penetration — or for others, with 11 assists.
Willie Reed was the biggest beneficiary of Dragic’s passing, receiving perfect passes that gave him prime scoring opportunities. Reed scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, giving the Heat some much-needed offensive firepower to compensate for Whiteside’s absence.
And of course, the Heat improved to 6-0 since signing former D-League player Okaro White to the team. Miami signed White to a second 10-day contract today, and he made a corner 3-pointer that helped break the game open early in the fourth period. Miami built a 20-point lead before a late, and ultimately futile, Bulls rally.
All gas, no breaks! Total team effort on this one! pic.twitter.com/Xx0Fw4TgvL— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 28, 2017
Another former D-League player, Rodney McGruder, had a nice game. The Heat’s starting small forward had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field, four rebounds and three steals. He was the trailer on a fast-break play late in the third quarter, getting a nice pass to make a layup that put the Heat up 15. That’s McGruder, making smart cuts to the basket in the half-court and hustling in the fast-break.
Perfect execution on the break! pic.twitter.com/4jRgTbgilo— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 28, 2017
Although he didn’t make a clutch 3-pointer Friday night, Dion Waiters contributed a lot to this win. Waiters finished with 19 points, including hitting three of his five attempts from downtown. Like Dragic, Waiters also easily drove into the lane for some crafty layups. He took some bad shots, but Waiters out-dueled Wade, who shot 6-of-17 from the field off the bench. Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, shot a horrendous 1-for-13 Friday night.
Miami’s other players had their ups and downs. James Johnson nearly had an unconventional double-double, finishing with nine rebounds and nine assists. But his attempts to score were nearly unbearable, including four missed shots in the final two minutes of the third quarter. He shot 3-of-15 from the field. Wayne Ellington shot just 6-of-16 from the field, but made two 3-pointers in the decisive fourth quarter. His second 3 put the Heat up 20 with 4:40 left to go.
The Heat will return to Miami to face the Detroit Pistons and go for their seventh straight win.