It was a rough night at the office for the Chicago Bulls down in South Beach. The Miami Heat blitzed the Bulls and immediately put them in a 14-point hole in the first quarter, and then again to start the second half outscoring the Bulls by 15 in the period. By the fourth, it was all garbage time as Miami wound up with a 112-99 win. This score could have been a lot worse if not for the Bulls ending the game on a 10-1 run in garbage time.
It was another ugly loss against an elite team, which continues to be a worrying trend. The loss means the Bulls are two games back of Miami for first place in the East, with the Heat also clinching the season series with a third win out of three.
As a team, Chicago shot 49.4 percent from the field (53.4 eFG%) but were atrocious from 3 , hitting only seven of their 29 attempts, equating to just 24.1%, and a bunch of those makes coming when the game was out of reach. Coby White was the only Bull to hit more than two shots from downtown.
The Bulls struggled to get easy shots and were also really sloppy with the basketball. They had eight turnovers in the first quarter alone, which set the tone for the entire night. Some of the credit goes to the Heat defense, as they had guys constantly coming from the weak side to come and slap the ball away. But other times we just simply saw poor passing from the Bulls. Either it was a bad pass in a crowded area or it was a simple bounce pass that just got away from their hands. Either way, it was a rough watch as Chicago looked flustered, to even where there was a 5-second inbounds violation coming out of a timeout. The Bulls tightened things up as the game went on, but a lot of the damage was already done and it was ultimately still a struggle to score.
DeMar DeRozan saw his 10-game streak of scoring 30 points or more in a row snapped as he had just 18 points. He went 7-of-16 from the field and had seven rebounds to go with it. Miami was determined to not let him be the reason why they lost tonight and kept doubling him at every opportunity they got.
Chicago was instead led offensively by Zach LaVine, who had a rough start to the game but picked it up when the game was out of reach to finish with 22 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. He added four rebounds and four assists but struggled from 3, going just 2-of-8 and making those two triples early in the fourth quarter in garbage time.
Miami also doubled Nikola Vucevic, and forced some turnovers early on in the game which led to easy transition buckets. Vucevic finished with 14 points and had seven rebounds. Efficiency wise he was solid, going 50 percent from the field, but this was another altogether nondescript performance from the big man. Ayo Dosunmu finished with 18 points and had six assists. He was tasked with following Miami’s shooters in Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, so he spent most of his night trying to avoid screens set on the perimeter. Javonte Green played the least out of the starters (21 minutes) and finished with four points and three rebounds in an ineffective performance (-27).
As for Chicago’s bench, they got thoroughly out played by Miami’s reserves. The Heat had 33 combined points from Tyler Herro (20) and Max Strus (13), with Caleb Martin pitching in nine. Meanwhile, the Bulls’ reserves managed only 23 points, with a chunk of those coming in the final few minutes. Tristan Thompson continues to get regular minutes over Tony Bradley with 16 in this game, but he had only two points and just one rebound while battling with Dewayne Dedmon.
Miami got 20 points from Gabe Vincent, who started at point guard for the absent Kyle Lowry, as he continues to torch the Bulls this season. Vincent went 4-of-8 from 3 and added three assists. The Heat stars weren’t spectacular but did enough: Jimmy Butler scored 15 points against his former team despite shooting 4-of-13 from the field. He stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals, dominating the game despite not shooting well. Bam Adebayo also had 15 points, seven rebounds and a highlight-reel block of Vucevic.
This was a tough and rather disheartening game for the Bulls as they continue to struggle against top teams, with this game barely being competitive after the 2nd quarter. Billy Donovan was making no injury excuses after this game, noting this team he has available doesn’t have many “battle-tested” guys.
The Bulls now have a couple of days off before they face off against the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday. They need to buckle down, because the cavalry still isn’t coming for a bit.