Heat close in on clinching, top Bulls 103-92
MIAMI (AP) — Josh Richardson scored 22 points, Goran Dragic added 17 and the Miami Heat trimmed their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to one by topping the Chicago Bulls 103-92 on Thursday night.
Justise Winslow scored 13 points and Kelly Olynyk finished with 11 for the Heat (41-35), who’ve won a season-best eight consecutive home games and moved within a half-game of Washington for the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Wizards lost at Detroit earlier Thursday, an outcome that denied Miami the chance to clinch the postseason spot.
The Heat need one more win or one more Detroit loss to wrap up their 20th postseason trip in 30 seasons. The Pistons are in New York on Saturday, in a game that should be over before the start of Miami’s home game against Brooklyn.
Bulls center Robin Lopez was ejected after picking up a pair of technicals with 8:43 remaining, ending his 13-point, six-rebound night. The Bulls dropped their seventh straight, making this the third losing streak that lasted at least that long for Chicago this season.
David Nwaba scored 15 points, Noah Vonleh added 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Bobby Portis ended up with 13 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago. Justin Holiday added 13 points for Chicago, which shot only 37 percent.
Miami led most of the way, trailing for only 14 seconds in the opening quarter. The Bulls didn’t make it easy, getting within four points late in the third and cutting what was a 19-point deficit down to 12 with a 7-0 run right after Lopez got ejected.
But Olynyk snuffed out any doubt with six straight points down the stretch for Miami, part of a 48-point effort by the Heat bench.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned from a nine-game absence with a hip problem, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in just under 20 minutes.
Bulls: Rookie forward Lauri Markkanen got the night off because of a sore elbow, a residual from a collision against Houston on Tuesday. The Bulls are thinking that he can play in Orlando on Friday. ... This game started a back-to-back for Chicago, which has only one more of those left — April 6 at Boston and April 7 at home against Brooklyn.
Heat: Dwyane Wade and Tyler Johnson both missed the morning shootaround practice with migraines, but were cleared to play. Johnson, however, left in the first half with a sprained right ankle. ... Thursday was the 22nd anniversary of Alonzo Mourning’s 50-point game for Miami against Washington — a career-best for the Hall of Famer.
Miami came in averaging 11.2 makes from 3-point range per game. The Heat went 7 for 27 from deep Thursday, and are 16 for 56 in their last two games.
Chicago beat Miami on Thursday, and then Miami beat Chicago. A couple miles from AmericanAirlines Arena, the Cubs topped the Marlins 8-4 in an opening day game that preceded the Heat victory over the Bulls.
The Bulls won four playoff series in 1997-98, Michael Jordan’s final season in Chicago. They’ve won five playoff series in the 20 seasons since.
Bulls: Visit Orlando on Friday.
Heat: Host Brooklyn on Saturday.