CHICAGO – The first three quarters again weren’t a problem. For the second consecutive game at the United Center, there wasn’t a deficit for the Miami Heat over the game’s first 36 minutes.
The concern was the fourth quarter, after falling in the final seconds Saturday night at the start of this five-game trip after not trailing until the final minute.
Up double digits in the final period for the second time in three nights, the Heat this time closed out the Chicago Bulls 118-100 Monday night to make it eight victories in their last nine games. It was the Heat’s first double-digit victory of the season.
Two nights after blowing a 21-point lead, the Heat got balance throughout the rotation and remained on the gas long enough to ease any doubts.
There were 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists from center Bam Adebayo; 22 points, including six 3-pointers, from guard Duncan Robinson; 19 points, including three 3-pointers, from guard Jaime Jaquez Jr.; and 16 points from forward Jimmy Butler, who did not need to be called up for late heroics, sitting out the final period.
The game trip continues Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers and concludes with a back-to-back set Friday night against the New York Knicks and Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
Five Degrees of Heat from Monday night’s game:
1. Game flow: There was no 22-1 lead for the Heat this time, after such an open Saturday, but instead a 12-2 edge at the outset, with the Heat closing the first period up 33-27.
The Heat then pushed their advantage to 14 in the second period, before taking a 65-53 lead into halftime and a 93-81 lead into the fourth.
From there, the Heat pushed their lead to 22 as Butler sat at the top of the fourth quarter, not needed for more than 29 minutes.
2. Eyes on rim: A game after going for a career-high seven assists, Robinson had eyes on the rim at the outset, converting his first three 3-point shots and then a driving layup for a 4-of-4 start, scoring 11 of the Heat’s first 17 points.
The second of Robinson’s 3-pointers was off a scrambled offensive possession as the shot clock was expiring.
He closed 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.
It was Robinson’s sixth consecutive start in place of sidelined guard Tyler Herro.
3. Monday fun day: Butler not only was up to 12 points by the intermission, but was maximizing his moments.
Sent to the line on what was ruled a clear-path Bulls foul, Butler between free throws paused to offer air high-fives to imaginary teammates, with the lane cleared during the shots.
But the topper was Butler not only scoring on an early skyhook, but mouthing the words “sky hook” in the midst of his sweeping motion.
4. Clean sheet: After costly turnovers and the close of Saturday night’s loss to the Bulls, the Heat at one stage stood with 17 assists to one turnover Monday night.
Kyle Lowry again made passing his priority, with five assists and no turnovers in the first half.
The crisp ball movement fueled an 8-of-17 first half on 3-pointers.
5. A little Love: A game before his first game back to Cleveland since leaving the Cavaliers on a buyout last February, Heat backup center Love was up to 11 points and five rebounds at the intermission.
Entering the night at .282 on 3-pointers, Love was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first half, tying his previous single-game season high of three conversions.
Love helped fuel the Heat bench to 29 first-half points, a decided boost after the Heat bench was limited to 23 Saturday night.