Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 100-88 victory at the Chicago Bulls

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra questions a call during Friday's game against the Bulls. (AP Photo/David Banks)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra questions a call during Friday’s game against the Bulls. (AP Photo/David Banks)

 

CHICAGO – When Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked on Friday about the turmoil within the Bulls locker room the last couple of days, he referenced their spot in the standings.

“They have something we would love to (have) right now, that’s that eight spot,” Spoelstra said.

The way the Heat are playing, that might come soon enough.

Miami ran the Bulls out of the United Center on Friday, racing to a 100-88 victory and pushing its winning streak to six games.

The Heat (17-30) broke open a tie game early in the third quarter behind the strength of their defense. Miami went on a 21-6 run and the lead eventually peaked at 20 points before a late Bulls push. Chicago shot 33.3 percent (12-of-36) in the final 24 minutes.

“I really liked the toughness in the second half in particular,” Spoelstra said. “In the first half both teams were really feeling each other out. What we talked about at halftime the first team that would really impose their will on the defensive side of the floor, really make it tough, would have the best chance to win the game.”

The Bulls (23-25) entered a fractured team, no matter what was said on Friday about feelings being smoothed over, and the Heat were able to capitalize. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, the two veterans who ripped the rest of the roster, didn’t do much to back up their talk, combining to go 7-of-30 from the field. Butler missed all but one of his 13 shots. They also combined for seven turnovers

The Heat were led by Goran Dragic’s 26 points and 11 assists. Center Willie Reed, who started for the injured Hassan Whiteside, chipped in with 20 points.

Here are our five takeaways.

Good-bye Bulls: The Heat and Bulls ended their season series on Friday and the Heat finally broke through, beating the Bulls after Chicago took the first two games. The Heat took advantage of the bickering Bulls, especially in the second half when they held Chicago to 35 points. With the Heat winning streak now at six games, do not expect Spoelstra to start patting his players on the back.

“We haven’t talked about it and that’s just been something that’s consistent all year whether you’re winning or losing,” Spoelstra said.

Waiters watch: Dion Waiters didn’t match his 30-point average of the last three games, but he continues to give the Heat steady, sometimes spectacular, play. Waiters scored 19 points, cooling down from the floor (6-of-18) but not from three-point range. He was 3-of-5 on threes, and now is 11-of-16 in his last three games from long distance.

“We’re locked in,” Waiters said. “We’re having fun. Everyone is enjoying everyone else’s success and we’re playing great basketball right now. We’re playing together. Any given night it could be anybody’s night on this team.”

Take that, coaches: Goran Dragic didn’t get a call Thursday when the All-Star reserves (chosen by the coaches) were announced. In fact, he probably wasn’t even considered. But the point guard has been Miami’s best and most consistent player this season and showed why again on Friday. Dragic was relentless, leading the Heat break, going to the basket and, and one point, out-hustling Wade for a loose ball, a play that led to an Okaro White three pointer. Dragic finished with another double-double and was 12-of-20 from the field.

“Goran had that 50-50 (play) late in the fourth,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the identity we have to embrace.”

Reed makes the most of it: Reed made his fifth start of the season in place of Whiteside, who is nursing a sprained right ankle. Reed had six quick points helping the Heat jump to an early 12-point lead and finished with 20 points and five rebounds. He shot 9-of-11. Reed was asked if it is any different preparing for a game as a starter compared to coming off the bench.

“It was just preparing to do the same thing I always do except with more minutes,” he said. “Go out there and play as hard as I can for as long as I can get a sub and then go back in and do the same thing.

Bickering Bulls: Wade surely did not sign up for this when he left Miami after 13 seasons last summer to come home to Chicago. The team imploded Wednesday when Wade and Butler tore into their younger teammates questioning their desire, professionalism and on-court decisions and Rajon Rondo then torched Wade and Butler by calling out their leadership. As a result, all three were fined and Wade and Butler benched for the start of Friday’s game. Both players were in the game by the 6:25 mark and Rondo entered seven minutes into the first quarter. That’ll teach them.

Rondo was the only one to back up his talk on Friday. He had 13 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. He shot 6-of-8.

[Dwyane Wade still does not regret leaving the Heat to sign with the Bulls]

[Heat center Hassan Whiteside on not playing tonight vs. Bulls: ‘I want to get out here, I’m a competitor]

[Heat sign Okaro White to second 10-day contract]

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