With LeBron James out for Miami, the Bulls were catching another schedule break to potentially aid their winning streak. Unfortunately the already-thin Bulls were missing a key contributor in Jimmy Butler, and the offense was effectively shut down for much of the game finishing with a mere 79 points in their 14-point defeat.
Without LeBron and facing the big Bulls frontcourt, the Heat actually were conventional to start the game giving Greg Oden his first start in over 4 years. Oden only played in the 6-minute stints to begin each half, but it was an interestingly different look for them (and interesting just to see Oden play) as Miami tried not to get killed on the boards for once (in the first half, they still got killed on the boards) with Bosh going to his more natural PF spot. Bosh had 10 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 28, including hitting 4 of 9 three-pointers.
But it was the usual quickness-emphasizing Heat defense that really spelled doom for the Bulls, unleashed first in the 2nd quarter as the Bulls didn't score for the first 6 minutes. Luckily on the other end they did what they usually do: force opponents to stink too, and even with that drought was going into halftime with a tie game. But the 3rd quarter was then even uglier for Chicago: 12 points on 5-20 shooting, with the Heat finishing the quarter on a 16-2 run to get them a 13 point lead.
It wasn't just Bosh and Wade* who did the damage, as frustratingly enough it was Mario friggin' Chalmers who was forcing defensive pressure and running the offense well. Chalmers finished with 9 assists to go with his 12 points as Miami's 3rd leading scorer, and some of that Heat run was without either Bosh or Wade on the floor.
*[man, is Wade still so easy to hate. He wound up with 23 points and a well-rounded line including 7 assists and 7 offensive rebounds, but watching him is so frustrating. His 'picking spots' routine looks just like laziness at times, from half-assedly catching passes to arguing with officials that literally cost his team points. And then he makes plays like the old Dwyane Wade that less makes you appreciate him and more makes you wonder why he doesn't deign it worth his while to do that more often. Because the good stuff did look good.]
The Bulls frontcourt played capably with Noah and Taj with 20 points apiece, though you could argue they didn't punish the Heat enough with Boozer falling short and the Heat able to return to small-ball lineups without giving up their lead. Even just using Bosh as their only big (and a lot of Michael Beasley at PF), Miami had a 19-point lead reduced to 11 at one time but the margin never got back within single-digits.
For the Bulls offense, it was a major failing from the perimeter. Hinrich and Dunleavy were merely mildly inefficient, whereas Tony Snell (2-10, 6 pts) was just slightly-horrible and DJ Augustin (0-10, 2pts) was a disaster. The Bulls' ball-sharing offense was totally disrupted by Miami, and it showed the limitations of not having any shot-creators to rely upon. The Bulls had 19 total turnovers on the night, including 7 shot-clock violations. The ball was sticking, sure, but that's because guys couldn't get open like they do against lackadaisical defenses, and when the clock was winding-down there were no good options.