Dragic scores 26 as Heat beat Bulls 118-96
CHICAGO (AP) With Dwyane Wade playing at less than full strength, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson came up big for the Miami Heat.
Dragic scored a season-high 26 points, Richardson added a career-high 22 and the Heat used a big fourth quarter to beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls 118-96 on Friday night.
Luol Deng scored 19 points for Miami, which outscored Chicago 34-15 in the final period on the way to its sixth win in seven games.
''Once we got the lead we started to get comfortable,'' Deng said, ''and then they were reacting to us. We got them thinking and that is our game.''
Pau Gasol led Chicago with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Justin Holiday scored a season-high 14 points, but the Bulls came up short on a night guards Derrick Rose (strained left groin) and Jimmy Butler (strained left knee) sat with injuries.
Chicago dropped to .500 at 32-32 after its second straight loss and missed a chance to move into the final Eastern Conference playoff spot after Detroit lost at Charlotte.
The Heat, who saw a five-game winning streak end Wednesday at Milwaukee, were up 88-85 early in the fourth when Deng made a 3-pointer from the corner, then scored off a steal to begin a 22-2 run that turned the game into a rout. Richardson was 3 for 3 from behind the arc and Hasan Whiteside added an emphatic alley-oop dunk from Deng during the spurt.
''We played defense and forced them to make a lot of turnovers,'' Dragic said after Miami had six steals in the fourth. ''We were really aggressive. After that, we could run. We scored a lot of points in the open court.''
Miami had a season-high 14 steals - six in the fourth - and the Bulls turned the ball over 18 times.
''When we made mistakes, they capitalized,'' Gasol said. ''They busted the game open and kept going and started making all kinds of shots.''
Heat: Wade suited up against the Bulls after he was hurt in Wednesday's loss at Milwaukee. ... Miami, which improved to 3-0 in the season series with the Bulls, has won three straight at the United Center.
Bulls: Gasol narrowly missed his third triple-double of the season and 10th of his career. His first two this season came Feb. 27 against Portland and March 7 against Milwaukee. Gasol also had six turnovers. . Holiday, acquired from Atlanta in a Feb. 18 trade, made his first start with Chicago and the sixth of his career.
Rose's groin started bothering him during Thursday's loss at San Antonio, and his plan ''for right now'' is to play Monday at Toronto.
Butler visited Dr. James Andrews on Thursday and worked out on Friday. The Bulls also hope to have him back Monday.
While Chris Bosh hopes to return this season, the Heat aren't ready to put a timetable on their star forward's comeback.
One day after the 11-time All-Star released a statement saying he would love to rejoin the team's playoff push after his latest blood clot scare, coach Erik Spoelstra would not say when Bosh will suit up again.
All Spoelstra would say after Friday's shootaround was that Bosh ''is in a great place right now'' as he tries to work his way back.
As for a return?
''We don't have any kind of timetable or anything like that,'' Spoelstra said.
Miami: At Toronto on Saturday.
Chicago: At Toronto on Monday.