CHICAGO (AP)Jimmy Butler scored 22 points, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro added 19 apiece and the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 127-109 on Saturday night.
Bam Adebayo scored 16, and the hot-shooting Heat (50-28) reached the 50-win mark for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Miami also increased its lead over second-place Milwaukee to 1 1/2 games and moved within a win of securing home-court advantage in Round 1 of the postseason. If the Heat go 3-1 the rest of the way, they’ll clinch the top seed in the East.
Miami made it look easy in this one, building a nine-point halftime lead and breaking it open in the third quarter. The Heat shot 53.7% in the game and made 17 of 34 3-pointers.
Butler, the former Bull, had seven rebounds and six assists. Herro matched a season high by nailing 6 of 7 3s, including three in the third.
Dewayne Dedmon added 14 points, and the Heat won their third straight after losing four in a row.
Zach LaVine led Chicago with 33 points. DeMar DeRozan finished with 26, though he shot 6 of 18, and the sixth-place Bulls fell a half-game behind Toronto with four to play. Chicago, which led the East for part of the season, is trying to stay in the top six and avoid the play-in round.
The Heat led 66-57 at halftime after Lowry made three free throws in the closing seconds. Herro heated up in the third, scoring nine and hitting a 3 in the closing minute to make it 98-79.
The Heat play in Toronto on Sunday, and it’ll mark Lowry’s first time playing there since he joined Miami last summer. Lowry remains beloved in Toronto after helping the Raptors win the 2019 NBA title, and he said it’ll be emotional. ”I’m sure they cheer me for a while, and then if we start to win, boo me,” Lowry said. ”It’s all love.” Lowry also said that if Toronto still only had limited-attendance or no-attendance restrictions because of the coronavirus, he wouldn’t be playing Sunday.
Heat: The Heat have 10 50-win seasons. … F Caleb Martin (bruised right calf), G/F Max Strus (bruised right shoulder) and G Gabe Vincent (bruised right big toe) were available after being listed as questionable.
Bulls: G Lonzo Ball (left knee) will not start sprinting and cutting until early in the week. Coach Billy Donovan said the Bulls figure to have a better handle on his status on Tuesday or Wednesday. ”They’re slowly building him up into that right now,” he said. ”We’re close to getting to that point from what they told me.” Ball had surgery in January to repair a torn meniscus. … Saturday marked the 15th anniversary of Donovan coaching Florida to an NCAA championship win over Ohio State and a title repeat. … Donovan seemed to get a chuckle from F Patrick Williams revealing, unprompted, after Thursday’s win over the Clippers he missed the shootaround that morning and was fined by the team. ”The one thing I love about Patrick is that he’s very, very honest,” he said. ”And he’s very, very sincere. And he’s a very, very truthful guy.”
Heat: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
Bulls: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.
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