MIAMI (AP) — The way the Miami Heat played defense in the final minutes, it’s clear they want to be at home when the playoffs begin.
And they pretty much ensured that the Chicago Bulls will be home for the entire postseason.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, Joe Johnson added 17 and the Heat shook off a slow first half to beat the Bulls 106-98 on Thursday night, clamping down in the final minutes for their ninth win in the last 10 home games.
Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside each had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, which has 14 consecutive games of scoring 100 or more at home — the second-longest such streak in franchise history.
Luol Deng scored 13, Josh Richardson had 11 and Amare Stoudemire added 10 for the Heat (46-32), who remained fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points for the Bulls (39-40), who now need a series of miracles to get into the postseason. Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Derrick Rose scored 17 for Chicago.
Rose had a chance at a layup that would have given Chicago the lead with 3:50 left, only to see it blocked by Whiteside to set up a three-point play by Wade and a 90-86 Heat lead. Moments later, Butler thought he saw someone open in the corner but his pass was deflected for a steal by Wade, leading to more Heat points as Miami kept pulling away.
Chicago hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2007-08, when the Bulls finished 33-49. They then beat 60-1 odds to win the draft lottery, getting the right to take Rose with the No. 1 overall pick — while Miami, far and away the NBA’s worst team that season, wound up taking Michael Beasley with the No. 2 selection.
Miami sputtered offensively in the first half, trailing 46-40 at the break. The Heat came out and scored 35 in the third, finishing with a 6-0 spurt that was sparked when Doug McDermott was assessed a flagrant-1 after getting tangled with Whiteside under the basket.
Whiteside hit the floor hard, then scored four points in 10 seconds when play resumed. He made his two free throws after the foul, then scored on the ensuing possession and after another basket by Josh Richardson the Heat took a 75-69 lead into the fourth.
Chicago used a 13-4 run to go up three midway through the fourth, and took the lead for the final time with 4:43 left on two free throws from Butler. Miami scored 10 of the next 12 points, going up 95-88 and keeping command the rest of the way.
Bulls: Taj Gibson (ribs) tried to warm up before the game, but wound up missing his fifth consecutive contest. … Gasol had a double-double against Miami for the 17th time in his career. It was also his 99th in the last two regular seasons, after leading the NBA with 54 last season. … The Bulls were swept by Miami for the first time since 2003-04, Wade’s rookie season.
Heat: Justise Winslow appeared in his 75th game. He’ll finish the regular season as the Heat leader in games, the fifth rookie in team history to have that distinction. … The Heat had three assists in the first half, their lowest in any half since Feb. 14, 2012. The trend didn’t last — they had five in the first 4:02 of the second half.
McDermott’s flagrant foul against Whiteside late in the third quarter was unusual in many ways. Not only was it Chicago’s first flagrant call of the season — and it still could be reclassified, technically — but it was the first time McDermott was whistled for anything other than a common foul since the start of his college career. He had no flagrants or technicals in his first 117 NBA games, and no technicals in his 145 games at Creighton.
Chris Bosh blogged again Thursday, following up his recent thoughts about beer and barbecue with revelations of what apps he’s using and his affinity for technology. He offered no update on his battle with blood clots or if he’s still hoping of returning this season. Thursday was his 25th game missed since being diagnosed with a clot in his leg at the All-Star break.
Bulls: Host Cleveland on Saturday.
Heat: Visit Orlando on Friday.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)