Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls fall to Heat at home

Bulls fall to 29-17 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 1.25.2015 | 2:31 p.m. CT

The Bulls withered Sunday in the glow of the Heat, losing 96-84 to the Miami Heat in the United Center.

The Bulls fell to 29-17 and 13-11 at home in which the Bulls trailed virtually the entire game and never made a serious run. Miami in Luol Deng’s first return to Chicago since his trade a year ago improved to 20-24.

The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade with 26 points and Chris Bosh with 20. But the Bulls were bullied by reserve center Hassan Whiteside with a triple double of 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks. Deng had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose with 19 points. Pau Gasol had 13 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. Going against Deng, Jimmy Butler had a season low five points.

The Bulls now leave for a six-game road trip starting against first place Golden State Tuesday. With the loss, it’s seven losses in their last 11 as the Bulls begin their final extended Western trip of the season.

In a noon Sunday brunch in the United Center, the Heat were having a bit of this and a bit of that in a buffet of Bulls mistakes during a 48-38 Miami first half lead. The Bulls after two strong games against Western Conference teams reverted to their stagnant play against an Eastern opponent in trailing 26-20 after the first quarter as Chris Bosh sprinkled jumpers all over the Bulls as the Heat shot 52.2 percent in the quarter. The Bulls applied a defensive tourniquet to the Heat early in the second quarter to be within 38-34 after an Aaron Brooks three. It was former Bull Luol Deng’s first return to Chicago as an opponent. The Bulls did a video tribute in the first quarter, and Deng showed his contribution in the second quarter with back door cuts, stealing a rebound from Pau Gasol and pressure defense that helped carry the Heat to the halftime lead while the Bulls were shooting 31.1 percent for the half. The Bulls couldn’t get much going in the third quarter, either, as Bosh’s late shooting and Deng’s active cutting led to a 72-60 Miami lead after three quarters. Rose tried to match it with 11 points in the third quarter, though the team remained under 35 percent shooting after three quarters.

Observations:

1. The Bulls failed to play with pace early, slipping into the sort of disjoined offensive games they’ll have against Eastern opponents. With the speed of Derrick Rose, it makes more sense to push the ball even on made baskets.

2. Pau Gasol’s defensive rebounding continues to be crucial as Gasol once again had double figure rebounds on the defensive glass and is in the league lead in double/doubles.

3. Aaron Brooks’ clever offensive moves and good shooting again was vital with the Bulls trying to make a comeback and speed up the offense. He had 17 points.