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Heat cruise past shorthanded Bulls 118-92

Miami improves to 16-11 while Chicago drops to 17-10.

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A dominant start-to-finish performance from the Miami Heat led to their 118-92 win over the shorthanded Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening at FTX Arena in Miami, Fla.

The Heat never trailed and dished out a season-high 37 assists (on 46 made field goals) — the fourth-most in a regular season game in franchise history and the most since it had 38 on Nov. 3, 2019 in a 129-100 win over the Houston Rockets.

Their marvelous playmaking was spearheaded by guard Kyle Lowry, the Heat’s quintessential “QB1”. He had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, but dished out 14 assists — 12 in the first half — to just two turnovers with two steals.

Duncan Robinson tallied a team-high 26 points, shooting 9-for-13 from the floor and 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. Dewayne Dedmon recorded his first career double-double, finishing with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds.

Tyler Herro had 17 points and six boards, shooting 7-for-18 from the hardwood in the winning effort. K.Z. Okpala added 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench.

In total, Miami shot 49.5 percent and 44.2 percent from 3-point range, hitting 19 3-pointers, the third-most this season.

Conversely, Chicago shot 37.3 percent and 42.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Zach LaVine tallied a team-high 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 7-of-11 from beyond the arc — in addition to seven rebounds and four assists. Lonzo Ball had 15 points on 4-of-12 from 3-point range with five rebounds.

Nikola Vucevic had 10 points with a team-most eight boards, though he shot a dismal 3-of-15 from the floor. Troy Brown Jr. tallied 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting with four assists.

The Bulls had seven players in health and safety protocols: DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Javonte Green, Stanley Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr., Matt Thomas and Coby White.

Miami’s Caleb Martin, coming off a career 28-point performance on Wednesday, also entered the COVID-protocols before the game. The Heat were also without Jimmy Butler (tailbone) and Markieff Morris (neck; 17th-straight missed game), as well as Bam Adebayo (thumb surgery) and Victor Oladipo.

Saturday’s win bumps Miami to 16-11 while Chicago falls to 17-10. It has won 12 of their last 15 regular season meetings against the Bulls.

Robinson’s second 3-pointer of the opening quarter capped a 10-0 Heat run, giving them the early 18-6 lead. Back-to-back Herro baskets made it 23-14 with 4:31 left in the first quarter.

Miami began 8-of-12 from beyond the arc, six of them from Lowry and Robinson. It ended the first quarter with nine 3-pointers and 12 assists.

The Bulls opened the second quarter on a 13-4 run to begin the second quarter — hitting six of their first nine shots — cutting it to 43-38. Miami retaliated with another 10-0 run — capped by Dedmon’s 3-pointer — giving Miami the 53-38 lead with 5:30 left in the first half, prompting a Bulls timeout.

Vucevic’s first basket — an above-the-break 3-pointer — followed by LaVine’s 3-pointer cut the deficit back to single digits.

Lowry’s 11th-and-12th assists in the first half, resulting in triples by Tucker and Robinson, gave Miami the 63-50 lead. The Heat entered halftime up 65-52 with 20 assists on 24 made baskets.

They shot 52.2 percent and 13-of-23 (58.5 percent) from beyond the arc. Chicago netted 11 of its 21 triples (52.4 percent), shooting 44.2 overall in the half.

Six straight from Robinson increased it to 78-60 with 6:19 left in the third quarter. A pair of layups by Robinson and Lowry (set up by back screens from each other) increased it to 84-65.

Gabe Vincent’s sky-touching floater followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from P.J. Tucker and Herro widened it it 98-73 with 8:37 remaining. Strus’ emphatic one-handed slam made it 102-78 with under seven minutes left. That was all she wrote, as Miami cruised to a 26-point victory over Chicago on Saturday night.

Next up: The Heat begin a four-game road trip with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m. EST.