With the top seed in the East still up for grabs late in the season, seven Miami Heat players scored in double-figures to ensure they would stay on top with a convincing 127-109 road victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Miami's 50th win of the season increased their lead to 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Bucks while the Bulls are now five games behind in the sixth spot.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 22 points on 7-12 shooting, including an impressive 2-3 from beyond the arc where he shot with confidence and without hesitation. He attacked the rim all night long but also scored from mid-range while also contributing seven rebounds. There was a point in the first half where he was simply toying with Coby White, able to score at will but also looking to share the ball with six assists.
Jimmy put together a classic all-around performance tonight, leading the team in scoring with 22 points pic.twitter.com/F2f6DSVEY9— X - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 3, 2022
As a whole however, the team’s balanced attack ensured they would remain in control of the game from the second quarter and beyond.
Only Zach LaVine, who led Chicago with 33 points, and DeMar DeRozan with 26 points represented any serious threat to spark the home team to go on a run and grab momentum, but time and time again the Heat answered. Bam Adebayo had helped power a Heat run to begin the first quarter but was soon benched with early foul trouble, but the Heat’s offense didn’t suffer too much in large part to Butler as well as Kyle Lowry’s continued aggressiveness to find his own offense.
In one of his better games since returning from his time away from the team, Lowry consistently made winning plays against Chicago’s defense by either hunting for his own points at opportune times while also continuing to get his teammates involved — scoring 19 points on 6-11 shooting while dishing out 10 assists.
Kyle kept the offense firing on all cylinders— X - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 3, 2022
19 points & 10 assists for QB1 pic.twitter.com/1UvK7mwFDL
Also worth noting was the production of Dewayne Dedmon, who was quickly rushed into duty and more than capably replaced Bam, not just on defense but also scoring a tidy 14 points on 6-9 shooting in 19 minutes.
Solid night of work for The Mechanic off the bench pic.twitter.com/7jDl7JdSqs— X - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 3, 2022
DeRozan struggled with his shot but was able to get to the free throw line to get his points, and LaVine shot early and often to go 5-12 from long distance but otherwise the Bulls simply had no answer for the Heat’s quick offensive bursts.
As a team, the Heat shot 53.7% from the field while their defense held the Bulls to 43%, including 9-34 from 3-point territory. Tyler Herro’s 19 points helped Miami’s bench outscore Chicago’s 56-27. His game started a bit rough getting his first two shots blocked but then he rattled off three straight 3-pointers to help give the Heat their first true push towards not just trading baskets but to hold and build a lead.
It’s true that turnovers didn’t help the cause, and Miami yielded far too many offensive rebounds, but otherwise Chicago never truly represented much of a threat for long stretches of the game as the lead grew from nine points at the half to a blowout in the fourth. Herro nailed three more beyond arc in the third to keep Chicago at bay.
Miami went without a field goal for about three and a half minutes in the fourth quarter to give Chicago a slight opening to possibly cut the deficit to single digits but they only got as close to 14 points.
With the victory in hand in another impressive showing against the Bulls to sweep the season series 4-0 and give Chicago yet another loss courtesy of a top seeded East team, Miami can look ahead to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at 7:00pm in what is expected to be an emotional homecoming for Lowry.