Pace, accuracy the key to heat victory

Miami's 67.5 percentage against the Bulls is the best mark in the NBA this season

MIAMI • The Miami Heat were on fire on Tuesday, connecting on a club record 67.5 per cent of their shots in a 129-111 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Heat's shooting percentage was not only the best in franchise history, it was the best in the National Basketball Association league this season.

Miami centre Hassan Whiteside had a career-high 26 points with 14 rebounds and four blocks - all game highs. It was his sixth straight double-double, all of them off the bench.

Forward Joe Johnson, playing his first home game in Miami since signing with the Heat at the weekend, scored 24 points. Luol Deng, a former Bulls star, added 20 points.

Goran Dragic had a double-double of 17 points and 11 assists. And his direction of the break-neck pace Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prefers was a key factor in getting his team-mates easy baskets.

"The only thing I don't want to see us do is walk the ball up the court," Spoelstra said of his team's sudden blistering pace. "There were a couple of times when (Dragic) walked it up, and I screamed at him, 'No. You be you. Make them (your team-mates) run with you.'"

Guard Dwyane Wade finished with 18 points and seven assists for Miami, who improved to 34-26 and are in fourth place in the East.

Bulls guard Derrick Rose scored 17 points but Chicago allowed more than 100 points for the 14th straight game. "We should win when we score 111 points," Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. "It's about a collective effort defensively. It has to change."

Chicago fell to 30-29 and ninth place in the Eastern Conference - half a game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final play-off spot.

There could be more bad news yet as forward Taj Gibson suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Chicago have already lost centre Joakim Noah for the season because of an injury and are awaiting the return of shooting guard Jimmy Butler and forward Nikola Mirotic.

The Golden State Warriors were without a key player of their own on Tuesday - Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry. They struggled without their star guard, who was out with a sore ankle, but beat the Atlanta Hawks 109-105 in overtime.

Draymond Green buried a desperate three-pointer with 40.2 seconds left in the extra period while centre Andrew Bogut capped a season-best, 19-point effort with a key tip-in with one minute and 51seconds remaining.

"Our guys stayed with it," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Every single guy who played contributed. Great team effort."

The Warriors have won all 25 games on their home court this season and 43 straight regular-season games at Oracle Arena dating back to last season. They host the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow morning (Singapore time) with a chance to tie the Bulls' record 44-game home winning streak, set over two seasons in 1995 and 1996.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'PACE, ACCURACY THE KEY TO HEAT VICTORY'. Print Edition | Subscribe