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Dunleavy carries Bulls to win over Heat

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MIAMI — Mike Dunleavy joked that his scoreless first half “was our game plan all along.”

It wasn’t, of course, but it worked anyway as the Chicago Bulls small forward scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter.

His shooting, coupled with tight Bulls defense, helped Chicago defeat the Miami Heat 93-75 on Sunday night at American Airlines Arena.

“Everything is just easy,” Dunleavy said when asked how it feels to get hot like that. “You get the ball, let it fly, and you know it’s going in — there’s not much suspense as a shooter. It’s a great feeling.”

He hasn’t had that feeling often this season. His only higher scoring game this season came on Nov. 7 against Philadelphia (27 points).

Dunleavy helped the Bulls improve to 11-3 on the road, which is the best mark in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have won four straight road games and are 8-0 at the home venues of rival Eastern Conference teams.

But Chicago (15-8 overall), the most improved offensive team in the NBA so far this season, had its streak of 100-point games snapped at eight.

“We weren’t great with the ball early on,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of his team, which had 19 turnovers in the game, six more than Miami. “I thought (guard) Aaron (Brooks) gave us a good lift when he came in (eight points off the bench).”

Instead of great offense, Chicago played more like the Bulls of old, relying mostly on their defense. They held the Heat to 35 percent shooting, including 4-of-22 on 3-pointers (18.2 percent).

It helped that the Heat were without standout forward Chris Bosh and that guard Dwyane Wade had an off night, scoring just 10 points through three quarters — on 4-of-13 shooting — when the game was decided. He finished with 17 points.

Wade, who said Bosh was “irreplaceable,” had no assists and two turnovers.

“With Chris (Bosh) being out, I knew I was going to have the ball,” Wade said. “They keyed on me a lot. I tried to make passes, but our shots just didn’t go down.”

The Heat used its 10th different starting lineup — and it showed. Miami (11-13) is now 4-7 at home this season. The Heat has also lost six of its past seven home games.

Last season, the Heat went 32-9 at home.

Chicago won despite not getting much offense from star point guard Derrick Rose, who was coming off a season-high 31 points in his previous game. Against Miami, Rose had just three points through three quarters but finished with 14 points.

Bulls forward Pau Gasol had his eight-game double-double streak snapped. He finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists.

“Pau’s line didn’t reflect how well he played,” Thibodeau said. “Pau’s a tough matchup. A lot of (Dunleavy’s) shots came off of what was happening inside with Pau.”

Miami got off to a good start, going on a 13-1 run in the first quarter, leading 18-14 at the end of the period.

That momentum disappeared in the second quarter as the Bulls took a 39-32 halftime lead. It was the Heat’s lowest-scoring half of the season

The Heat shot just 30 percent in the first half, including 1 of 10 on 3-pointers.

Then came Dunleavy’s brilliant third quarter, when he outscored the Heat by himself, 19-16. He made seven of his eight shots in the quarter, including three of three on 3-pointers.

Largely because of Dunleavy, the Bulls went into the fourth leading 72-48.

“A couple of our quick shots on offense didn’t help us on the other end,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Dunleavy. “We came out flat at the beginning of the third quarter.”

NOTES: Heat F Chris Bosh (calf injury) missed his first game of the season. He leads the team in scoring, rebounds and blocks. … Heat F Udonis Haslem made his first start of the season, taking Bosh’s place. … Bulls C Joakim Noah (sprained ankle) has missed three straight games. … Bulls F Taj Gibson played despite a gimpy ankle. … Bulls F Doug McDermott had knee surgery Saturday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He has already missed six straight games. … Heat F Josh McRoberts (knee) missed his third straight game. … Heat C Chris “Birdman” Anderson (ankle), who had missed nine straight games, returned late in the first quarter. Overall this season, he has missed 14 games and played 10. … Next up, the Bulls will play at Atlanta on Monday. … The Heat plays at Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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