Heat 105, Bulls 96
MIAMI (AP)—Caron Butler dedicated his best game of the season to his new baby girl.
Playing on only three hours’ sleep after the birth of his third child, Butler scored 12 of his season-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and pulled down a career-best 13 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 105-96 victory Monday night over the Chicago Bulls.
“That’s for my baby, that’s for my child right there,” Butler said.
His fiancee gave birth to a daughter, Mia, at 2:58 a.m. on Monday.
“I’m drained man,” said Butler, who also had five assists and two blocked shots.
Early in the fourth quarter, Butler blocked Marcus Fizer’s shot, retrieved the loose ball, dribbled the length of the court and hit a driving layup as he was fouled. He completed the three-point play to tie it at 81.
“That was a big momentum change, that’s when the crowd started going crazy,” Butler said.
Dwyane Wade finished with 21 points as Miami won its ninth consecutive home game to remain in sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“That was a heck of a win for us tonight,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It is incredible how far we have come this year.”
Brian Grant’s jumper with 4:42 remaining put Miami ahead for good at 87-86 and helped the Heat to a 13-2 run. Butler’s two free throws with 2:29 left capped the run, giving the Heat a 96-88 lead.
“We have a hard time maintaining our concentration and staying with things that are working when the game gets close,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “It has been our nemesis all season.”
Kirk Hinrich scored 20 points to lead the Bulls, who have lost five straight.
Udonis Haslem’s fast-break dunk helped cap a 10-0 run to give Miami a 72-71 lead with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter and counter a 10-point Bulls spurt.
But Chicago’s Jamal Crawford was fouled by Wade attempting a 3-point shot. Wade protested the call and was hit with a technical foul by referee Ken Mauer. Crawford hit all four free throws to end the period.
The Heat, missing forward Lamar Odom with a bruised knee, lost reserve forward Malik Allen to a knee injury early in the second quarter. They struggled in the post area and opted for a perimeter offense for most of the first half.
“The offense started to click because we really started to get down and defended,” Wade said. “Caron did a great job with some steals and blocks.”
Eddy Curry scored 12 first-half points as the Bulls led for most of the first two periods. Chicago had five eight-point leads in the second quarter, the last one coming on Curry’s hook shot to give the Bulls a 46-38 advantage with 1:43 remaining.
Wade hit four free throws and Eddie Jones made a pair to help Miami reduce the late second-half deficit.
“It gets more frustrating with each (loss),” said Curry, who finished with 16 points. “It’s great to have the effort but you don’t want to lose.”
Odom sat out Monday’s game with a right knee bruise sustained in Friday’s victory over Dallas. He saw limited action in Sunday’s loss at Indiana.
Odom had missed only one game this season. He is second to Jones in scoring at 17.1 points per game and leads the team in rebounds with 712.
Allen was removed from the court on a stretcher after hurting his left knee with 8:56 remaining in the second quarter. Allen and Curry collided as both battled for position. Curry fell on Allen’s knee and Allen immediately grimaced in pain.
Allen did not return, and tests revealed a mild ligament sprain. He is day to day.
“Down going into the fourth, we hung in there,” Van Gundy said. “Our guyshave some mental toughness now.”
Miami guard Rafer Alston’s 3-pointer with 7:06 left in the second quarter increased his consecutive games streak with a 3-pointer to 40. … The Heat’s home winning streak ties the second-longest in team history. … Crawford has hit a 3-pointer in 43 of his last 47 games. … Bulls forward Tyson Chandler sat out as he served a one-game suspension for throwing a punchat Atlanta’s Michael Bradley on Saturday.