With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade leading the way, the Miami Heat got some payback against the Chicago Bulls with a 105-93 victory at American Airlines Arena.
Less than three weeks after dropping a 101-97 decision to the Bulls in Chicago that ended their near-record 27-game win streak, the Heat doled out a measure of revenge by shooting 51.4 percent from the field and rarely trailing en route to a sixth consecutive victory and 36th at home this season, a new franchise best.
"We wanted to win this game; we always want to protect home court," Heat center Chris Bosh said afterward. "We didn't want to play any sloppy basketball and lose a bad game."
James put up 24 points along with seven rebounds and six assists, with Wade adding 22. Chris Andersen contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench in the triumph, with Mario Chalmers also scoring 15 points for Miami.
The Bulls had six players finish in double figures, topped by Luol Deng's 19 points, but shot just 35.4 percent as a team on the way to a fourth loss in five outings. The setback dropped Chicago a full game behind Atlanta for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with two to play in the regular season.
"We just have to keep moving forward and concentrate on improving," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "Hopefully we will get a couple of (injured) guys back soon. I don't want us thinking about the playoffs, I want us thinking about the game tomorrow with the Orlando Magic."
Carlos Boozer amassed 16 points and 20 rebounds in a losing cause, with Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson each ending with 14 points for the Bulls.
Playing with a noticeable sense of purpose, the Heat started out extremely well. The defending NBA champions hit seven of their first nine field goal attempts and jumped out to a 19-9 lead just past the midway mark of the opening quarter following a 9-0 spurt that James began with a 3-point play. Miami carried a 30-22 advantage into the second quarter after holding the Bulls to a 33.3 success rate from the floor, then scored the first six points of the period to increase the margin to 14.
A James slam with 5:16 left in the first half put Miami up by a 46-31 count, but Robinson netted five points to lead a 13-2 push over the next three minutes that cut the Bulls' deficit to four. The Chicago guard later closed out the frame by banking in a jumper that trimmed the Heat's edge to 56-54 at the break.
Miami then began to pull away in the second half, primarily due to Wade's efforts. The All-Star guard dropped in 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting during the third quarter, with three of those makes coming as part of an 8-1 spurt that stretched the Heat's lead to 78-68 with 5:28 remaining in the stanza.
The Heat maintained a double-digit differential for the majority of the game's duration, with Chicago only getting as close as seven points down on two occasions.
Miami went 35-6 on its home court during the 2004-05 season ... Bulls guard Richard Hamilton sat out the contest to serve a one-game suspension for elbowing Toronto's DeMar DeRozan during Friday's 97-88 loss to the Raptors ... Miami played without forwards Shane Battier (knee) and Udonis Haslem (ankle) for a second and third straight game, respectively ... Anderson's previous season scoring best was 10 points, most recently set at Philadelphia on Mar. 13 ... Boozer notched a double-double for the fifth straight game and 12th time in 14 outings ... The loss was Chicago's 10th in its last 13 road tilts.