The Miami Heat looked poised to blow out the Chicago Bulls through three quarters Saturday night. Miami quickly built a lead that crested at 24 late in the first half and took a 17-point advantage into the final period.
It wasn’t that easy.
With Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro both out, Miami started the fourth with two-way players Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. The Bulls went on an 18-5 run to start the fourth quarter to shift the momentum. Chicago would knock down six 3s in the final period. But Jimmy Butler checked into the game with 7:40 left and promptly went to work.
On the defensive end, Butler poked the ball away twice for crucial Bulls turnovers that led to Heat scores. Two straight buckets from Butler gave Miami a 101-92 lead with 3:33 left to go. But the Heat couldn’t quite close the deal — the Bulls even had the ball down 103-99 with 22 seconds left after an eight-second violation from Miami.
Coby White drove to ball to the rim for a dunk to make it a two-point game, but the Heat got the ball in-bounds. Kendrick Nunn calmly sunk two free throws to put the lead out of reach. The Heat escaped with a much-needed 106-101 win 24 hours after a disappointing road loss to an Atlanta Hawks team missing Trae Young and Clint Capela. (The Bulls missed Zach LaVine tonight.)
Butler and Bam Adebayo both made huge plays in crunch time to keep the Hawks at bay. Both finished with 20 points. Butler shot 5-of-11 from the field and 10-of-12 from the foul line to go along with five rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Adebayo shot 7-of-13 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line and added six rebounds and 10 assists.
The Heat center dove to the ball for a loose ball on a crucial possession for Miami. He also put Daniel Theis on a poster on this second-quarter drive.
Why does it always happen to Craig Ehlo, I mean Daniel Theis? pic.twitter.com/5ww4sbeRhy— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) April 25, 2021
Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 23 points. He made four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game to help Miami jump out to a 17-6 lead. The Bulls started both Nikola Vucevic and Theis, which gave Robinson opportunities to create room for himself.
But he cooled down in the second half; he hit only one 3 in the third and missed all his 3s in the fourth period. But with 34 seconds left, Robinson made a nice cut to the basket to make a layup that put the Heat up 103-96.
The Heat also got a nice game from Nunn, who scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from downtown. And aside from his clutch free throws at the end, Nunn hit a 3 midway through the fourth quarter to put the Heat up 94-87.
It shouldn’t have become a nail-biter, but a win is a win. Miami moved to a half-game behind the Boston Celtics for the sixth seed. The Heat will again host Chicago Monday night at 8 p.m.