MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James scored 24 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and the Miami Heat set a franchise record for home wins in a season, topping the Chicago Bulls 105-93 on Sunday.
Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen each scored 15 for Miami, which improved to 36-4 at home — topping the 35-6 mark by the 2004-05 Heat. Miami held Chicago without a 2-point basket for the first 16 minutes of the second half, with the Bulls relying almost exclusively on 3-pointers.
Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds for the Bulls, who snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak last month. Chicago finished with 29 field goals and 30 fouls, allowing the Heat to shoot a season-high 41 free throws.
The loss keeps Chicago in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference. Miami has wrapped up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Chris Bosh had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for Miami, which also got 11 points from Mike Miller. Luol Deng led Chicago in scoring with 19, Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson scored 14 apiece and Jimmy Butler added 13 for the Bulls, who shot just 35 percent.
Any Miami-Chicago game tends to be physical, and this was no exception. There were no fewer than six instances of Heat players ending up on the floor in the first 6 minutes alone, though Miami hardly seemed to be bothered by it all.
Wade, still working his way back from bone bruises around his right knee, tipped the ball away to start a break that resulted in a 3-pointer by Chalmers to give Miami a 16-9 edge. And moments later, Bosh head-faked Boozer into the air, then drove past for a two-hand dunk and a quick nine-point lead.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game he would not play Bosh, Wade and James their usual big minutes, and wasn’t kidding, with each of Miami’s “Big Three” on the bench with 3:45 left in the opening quarter — something that hardly ever happens.
James made his first seven shots, one of them a dunk off a bounce pass by Chalmers to give Miami a 46-31 lead midway through the second quarter. The dunk was with such force, Hinrich found himself flinching to get out of the ball’s way.
The Bulls, still in a battle with Atlanta for the No. 5 seed in the East, bounced back fast. A 23-10 run to end the first half got Chicago within 56-54 at the break, and briefly took the lead when Jimmy Butler converted a four-point play to make it 61-60.
It didn’t take long for Miami to regain control, with the lead at 86-77 entering the fourth.
NOTES: Bosh had four blocked shots, the sixth time he’s done that since joining the Heat. … Chicago allowed 30 first-quarter points for the third time in its last four games. … The Heat bench went into hysterics in the second quarter, when a young boy who was drawn up to look like Andersen — replete with the multi-colored neck tattoos — was shown on the scoreboard screens throughout the arena. … Butler, perhaps generously listed by the Bulls at 6-foot-7, took the opening tap against Bosh. Predictably, Bosh prevailed. … Media outlets from France, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Italy, Australia, China and Spain were among those in attendance.
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