Five notes from the Heat’s 113-103 loss to the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night in South Florida:
▪ Without three starters—including Jimmy Butler—the Heat’s four-game winning streak ended with a second-half meltdown on both sides of the field.
Chicago, down 57-52 at halftime, took control 21-2 in the third quarter and beat the Heat at FTX Arena for the second time this season.
The Bulls, who spoiled Opening Night in Miami, also robbed the Heat of a chance to move two games above . 500 for the first time this season. Instead, the Heat fell to 16-16, continuing this team’s tendency to fall back step after step forward.
It was another disappointment in a season full of them, not only because Miami looked so good in the first half, but also because the Bulls came in mired in dysfunction, having lost four in a row amid reports of a verbal locker room confrontation on Sunday. 150-126 defeat of Minnesota.
The Heat had neither enough offense in a 46-point second half nor enough defense to slow Demar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and a Bulls team that shot 23-for-39 after the break.
DeRozan, who only had eight in the first inning, scored 10 of 24 in the third, and Vucevic scored 11 of 29 in that period. Vucevic also scored 12 rebounds.
Chicago outscored the Heat 30-10 to open the third quarter and Miami never recovered.
The Heat — who play without Butler, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin — haven’t evened by single digits after trailing 82-67.
The miss was 27 points and 12 rebounds from Bam Adebayo, who shot 12-for-15 from the field.
▪ With the team again plagued by injuries, Erik Spoelstra needed to use a new starting lineup—the Heat’s 12th different in 32 games. This didn’t work.
This time, the bingo card included Victor Oladipo, Max Stross, and Heywood Highsmith along with regular starters Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
Those five went 12-9 during their time together to start the game, then were shot 23-8 to open the third quarter before Spoelstra went to Duncan Robinson in place of Oladipo.
Butler had a late scratching after waking up from a nap on Tuesday due to a gastrointestinal illness.
Lowry missed his third straight game with a sore left knee and Martin missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Oladipo made his first start since the stale regular season finale against Orlando last season, when he scored 40 goals.
It was a more memorable night for Oladipo, who closed out 4-for-13, including 2-for-8 on the night from 14 points.
Highsmith was useful, putting up his usual harassing defense and scoring a career-high 18 points, tallying all four of his career.
But this starting lineup was overwhelmed at the start of the second half and the Heat couldn’t climb out of the hole it had made.
Before basically leveling the game late, Spoelstra went just eight points deep, with Robinson, Dewayne Didmon and Jamal Cain off the bench. Cain, who was called up earlier in the day from a G-League show in Las Vegas, grabbed three points and two rebounds in eight minutes.
Udonis Haslem, Nikola Jovic, and Orlando Robinson were available Heat players who didn’t play.
Miami is down to 5-7 without Butler this season.
▪ Against a team that has been horrendous defensively in recent months, there hasn’t been enough attack other than Adebayo (27), Herro (19) and Highsmith (18).
Not only was Chicago crunched for 150 points in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, but the Bulls came in after allowing at least 119 points in five of their last nine games.
Prior to Tuesday, the Bulls had not allowed less than 108 points since Nov. 28.
But after a 36-point second quarter, Miami managed only 20 points in the third quarter on 7-for-18 shooting, with six turnovers.
Strouse remained mired in the slump, shooting 1-for-9 overall and 1-for-7 in three points in a four-point night.
The Heat – the best three-point shooting team in the league last season – entered 24th on 34.3 percent and finished the night at 34 percent on three points (15-for-44).
Adebayo did everything he could, making all seven of his shots in the first half.
Hero, who was scoreless in the first quarter, hit all four of his 11-point second quarter shots, but shot 3-for-8 in the second half.
The Heat shot 16-for-37 in the second half.
The defense was equally problematic, as the Heat were unable to slow DeRozan, Vucevic, Zach LaVine (21) and Kobe White (14). Chicago shot 55 percent from the field.
Often going up against smaller defenders, Vucevich as the Heat played a lot of territory and converted a lot.
▪ After being a healthy scratch four times in seven games, Robinson again got the early minutes and sizzled early.
With four three-pointers, Robinson is now seven behind Tim Hardaway in his career three-pointers (806).
But after shooting 4-for-8 on threes in the first period, Robinson was 0-for-4 after halftime.
Robinson came in shooting 9-for-25 on triples during this four-game stretch and scored in double figures in three of his four games, after hitting in double figures only four times in his first 19 games.
The Heat continued their bad habit of losing to bad teams at home.
Embarrassing losses at home to Detroit and San Antonio earlier this month left Miami with a 6-4 record at home against teams currently under . 500.
The Heat are now 6-5 in those games – unacceptable for a team aspiring to go anywhere in May.
There will be more chances to beat record-breaking teams in this four-game home, with Indiana in town Friday night and the Lakers visiting next Wednesday. Minnesota, game over . 500, visits FTX Arena on Monday.
The Heat fell to #8 in the East at 16-6, behind the No. 7 Hawks (16-15), No. 6 Knicks (18-13) and No. 5 Philadelphia (17-12).
This story was originally published Dec 20, 2022 9:46 PM.