Chicago saw its fourth quarter lead disappear as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored at critical moments down the stretch to pull away and beat the Bulls, 89-84 in Chicago.
Wade scored 28 team leading points and Bosh added 18 points to send the Bulls to their third straight home defeat. Chicago, at 25-19, appears to be holding onto a playoff berth. Signs of its recent six game winning streak seem long gone.
To compound matters, Derrick Rose did not play in the second half because of lower back strain, and right hamstring tightness. Aaron Brooks played in his place and scored 13 points for the night. The Bulls also missed Kirk Hinrich and E’twaun Moore, both out with injuries. Add in an inactive Joakim Noah, and Chicago lacked firepower.
That is the case when two starters, Tony Snell and Taj Gibson, combine for 4-14 shooting. Pau Gasol had a stellar night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to head off the one-two punch of Wade and Bosh. The Bulls scored only 16 points in the fourth quarter, after holding the Heat to just 12 points in the third quarter.
When Chris Bosh scored to break a 84-84 tie; the Bulls had no answer. Wade and Bosh scored key baskets in the closing minutes to seal the win. Jimmy Butler scored 13 points on 5-15 shooting. Overall, the Bulls hit 40% from the floor on only 18 assists. Nikola Mirotic did score 15 points off the bench.
Fred Hoiberg was hired to improve the team’s offense. The coach spent hours mixing and matching his lineup that featured players with unique skills sets. The season is literally half-over and the Bulls scored just 84 points.
Snell has been a disappointment at the small forward position. He scored 6 points and in recent games, has had totals lower than Monday night’s game.
The Bulls are a team in transition. It can’t really rely upon Rose being healthy. He has been productive but he is injury-prone. Butler played 40:05 minutes and guarded the Heat’s top players. He can’t do it all by himself.
Hoiberg has to find a lineup that can respond late in the game or it may be a long season.