The Miami Heat’s four-game, six-day road trip could not have gotten off to a worse start Thursday night.
The Heat fell 107-87 to the Bulls in Chicago, their worst defeat of the season and their second straight setback. Not since the first week of the season, when they lost at Philadelphia and Brooklyn on the road, had the Heat lost back-to-back games.
But the Bulls, who will be without guard Derrick Rose for the rest of the season, didn’t have guard Jimmy Butler for this one as well, and they played with a passion and aggressiveness the Heat most definitely were lacking.
The Bulls led from the moment Carlos Boozer hit layup to break a 6-6 tie with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
It was 29-20 after one quarter and 58-44 at the half.
The Heat, who had fallen into the habit of trailing by double digits early in recent outings, weren’t able to come back this time.
The Bulls pushed the margin out to 25 points in the third quarter and went into the fourth up by 22 at 85-63. The Heat managed to get their deficit down to 12 points with under six minutes left at 93-81, but the Bulls finished the game on a 14-6 run.
An old problem also reappeared for the Heat.
The Bulls outrebounded the Heat 27-9 in the first half and 40-14 through three quarters before settling for a 49-27 advantage.
It was reminiscent of last season’s playoffs when the Bulls had a 46-32 rebounding advantage to open the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat bounced back to win the series, but the Bulls won the rebounding battle in three of the five games, including the lat two by a combined 18-rebound margin.
The Heat play the Pistons Sunday in Detroit and finish the swing against the Pacers Tuesday in Indianapolis.