Heat Check: Hassan Whiteside throws block party in Miami’s road win

Chicago Bulls guard Aaron Brooks (0) is defended by Miami Heat guard Shabazz Napier (13) and center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the first half.

David Banks/David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat made sure Luol Deng’s return to Chicago on Sunday was a winning occasion. But it was the return of Hassan Whiteside to the Heat after missing two games due to an ankle sprain that powered the 96-84 victory in a historic performance.

Playing against the Bulls at the United Center for the first time in his career, Deng (15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) was aggressive from the start on offense to get them going.

Once Whiteside entered the game, however, the Bulls played catch-up the rest of the way. He finished with a triple-double of 14 points (6-of-10 shooting), 13 rebounds, and 12 blocks in 25 minutes.

All five starters enjoyed solid games, and with Whiteside’s incredible performance, the Bulls showed little on offense to stem the tide. His five first-half blocks helped limit Chicago to just one field goal in the paint in 12 attempts in the second quarter, along with 31 percent shooting in the first half as Miami proceeded to play one of its more complete games of the season.

Not even halftime would slow down the Heat this time. Derrick Rose scored 11 points for the Bulls in the third quarter, but it didn’t make much of a dent in the Heat’s lead.

Chicago cut the lead to seven points with less then two minutes left in the game when Whiteside recorded his ninth block by erasing Aaron Brooks’ layup and Dwyane Wade — who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter — followed it up with a tough turnaround jumper to ice the game.

Wade finished with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, and Bosh had 20 points and seven rebounds. Mario Chalmers also put together one of his better games of the season with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists.

THE TURNING POINT

Heat vs. Bulls

The game was evenly played for most of the first quarter until the Heat went on a 10-0 run to pull ahead and maintain a lead that would last the duration of the game.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Much like every other game he’s appeared in, Whiteside changed the look of the Heat on both ends of the floor. He would tie his career-high of five blocks in just his first seven minutes of action. Whiteside’s presence in the paint didn’t just make a huge impact on defense, he also showed great hands to catch and finish strongly by the rim.

He had eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the fourth quarter alone to help put away the game in one of the more dominating displays from a Heat big man.

STAT OF THE GAME

Whiteside’s 12 blocks set a Heat franchise record, and they were a season high for any NBA player.

WHAT’S NEXT

Miami takes on the Milwaukee Bucks at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.