Heat 103, Bulls 74
Dwyane Wade got a warm reception when he was introduced before the game. It was a Chicago crowd's way of saying welcome home to a native son who's a star and could become a major free agent.
Wade doesn't always score big at the United Center and Thursday night he didn't have to.
``I was laying in bed today and I was wondering why I don't play good here like I play other places on the road,'' Wade said.
``I decided I play too fast here. I decided to come out and play like I normally play, with a lot of patience. ... My game plan going out there was to get my teammates involved. I knew they were going to bring two at me and pack the paint a little bit. So I decided to make sure to get my teammates involved and it opened things up.''
In 29 minutes, Wade had 10 assists and five rebounds. He entered averaging 26.5 points. Jermaine O'Neal scored 24 points, shooting 9 of 14 against a soft Chicago defense, while Michael Beasley scored 15 and Udonis Haslem 14.
Pushing for a better playoff seeding, Miami's third straight victory and ninth in 12 games lifted the Heat into the No. 6 slot in the Eastern Conference, a half game ahead of idle Charlotte.
``One of our best road wins of the season,'' Wade said.
``Right now we're playing some of our best basketball. March is a great time of the year for that. Everyone is understanding and settling into their role now.''
The Bulls have lost 11 of 13, including a 10-game losing streak, and are in ninth place in the East.
``No good answer for anything,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of the loss. ``They just attacked us with O'Neal and Beasley. ... It's disappointing. We didn't have enough fight in us tonight.''
Hakim Warrick led the Bulls with 14 points while Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 apiece.
Wade had eight first-half points, hitting a jumper just before the buzzer to give the Heat a 63-33 lead as the boos poured down on the home team at the United Center.
Miami shot 60.5 percent in the first half, while the Bulls made only 28 percent. Miami finished the game at 52 percent with many easy shots against a listless Chicago defense.
O'Neal worked at will on the inside and had easy short-range jumpers, hitting 7 of 11 and scoring 18 points in the opening half. Haslem came off the bench with 10 points in the first half and the rout was on. Chicago was without injured forward Luol Deng (calf) and Joakim Noah played limited minutes as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.
``We were a little shocked about it,'' O'Neal said of the game's one-sided nature. ``More than anything we felt like we had to come out and jump on those guys.''
Miami's Quentin Richardson, another former Chicago prep star, scored nine points in the final three minutes of the opening quarter as Miami closed on a 23-9 run for a 31-19 lead.
There were some heated words last time the teams met in Miami, a 108-95 Heat victory earlier this month. This time there wasn't much to say. The Heat's play did all the talking.
``The last game was a little chippy, but we put that aside,'' Wade said.
NOTES: The Heat's largest margin of victory this season was 34 against Indiana in December. The Bulls lost to Atlanta by 35 in December. ... Miami led 86-49 after three quarters. The Heat's biggest lead was 39. ... It was Chicago's lowest scoring game of the season.