The Bulls in the Monday Martin Luther King matinee game kept the heat on and cooled off Miami in a 119-111 victory.
The Bulls got an 18-point fourth quarter from Nikola Mirotic, who had been scoreless through three quarters, and a big time three pointer from Lauri Markkanen with the shot clock about to expire in the last two minutes to hold off a Heat.
With Miami pressuring late, Markkanen beat the pressure and finished for a score with a pair of Heat defenders hanging on him and made the basket for a three-point play. Markkanen then held up his left arm making the symbol for a powerful muscle. It was a strong Bulls win against one of the league’s hottest teams.
The Bulls were led by Justin Holiday with 25 points and seven three pointers, which equalled a franchise record. Zach LaVine had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in his 20 minutes. Markkaken had 17 points and nine rebounds, Denzel Valentine had 12 points and seven rebounds and Robin Lopez had 10 points. Kris Dunn had six points and 10 assists.
The Bulls moved to 17-27.Miami is 25-18.
The Heat came in hot, winners of seven straight and 10 of 12. The Bulls had won two straight and three of five. LaVine remained on a playing time limitation, but quickly got the most of his minutes with an assist on the Bulls first score to Lopez and then a driving score and a three. LaVine left with 7:37 in the first with seven points and two assists and the Bulls leading 13-7. The Bulls kicked their lead up to 24-15 on a Holiday three and then with Miami shooting back toward the lead Bobby Portis closed the quarter with a three for a 32-25 Bulls lead. The Bulls made four of six threes and shot 56 percent overall. Miami was the aggressor to start the second quarter with four offensive rebounds on the first possession, though they didn’t score. Then Miami gathered a 38-37 lead with a pair of threes, sending the Bulls into a timeout with 7:33 left. The Bulls devolved into a surfeit of jumpers that went awry, failing to score in seven of eight possessions. But the defense held as Miami led 42-41 with 3:44 left in the half.
After ignoring Markkanen much of the first half, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg obviously made it a third quarter priority. Markkanen made a pair of threes early as the Bulls took a 63-54 lead. Holiday added another two for a 74-58 lead with Dunn and LaVine connecting on a 70 foot pass for a fast break score. LaVine left shortly thereafter, but returned for the last 1:35 to finish his 20 minutes. The Bulls had but up an 82-63 lead late in the quarter on Holiday’s seventh three pointer. But Miami closed with a 9-2 run and the Bulls led 84-72 after three quarters. Mirotic finally found the range with back to back threes after several rolled in and out in the first half for a 98-85 Bulls lead with 6:37 left in the game. The Bulls still led 101-86 after another Mirotic three when Miami hit the Bulls with another 11-2 run mostly on penetration to cut the Bulls led to 103-97 with 4:18 left. Miami kept coming, attacking the basket and getting within 105-100 with 3:08 left. Holiday and Markannen then made crucial shots.