CHICAGO (AP) — Goran Dragic had 26 points and 11 assists, Willie Reed scored 20 points and Dion Waiters added 19 to lead the Miami Heat to their sixth straight win Friday night, a 100-88 victory over the bickering Chicago Bulls.
Dwyane Wade had 15 points to lead the Bulls, who began the day with a team meeting and ended it with a second straight frustrating loss.
Wade and Jimmy Butler started the controversy when they questioned the desire of the team’s younger players following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Rajon Rondo fired back a day later, criticizing Wade and Butler in an Instagram post.
All three players were fined, and Wade and Butler were held out of the starting lineup as punishment.
Butler was the first off bench and received a loud ovation from the United Center crowd when he checked in with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter. Wade also received a loud ovation when he entered 28 seconds later.
Rondo, though, was greeted by some boos when he checked in with 5:05 to go in the first.
Whether it was the controversy or coming off the bench, Butler never developed a rhythm and finished with just three points on 1-for-13 shooting.
Chicago trailed by as many as 12, but Wade hit a jumper with 1.1 seconds left to tie it at 53 at halftime.
Miami reclaimed control in the third quarter, racing out to a 77-62 advantage before Chicago scored five straight to make it 77-67 entering the fourth.
The Bulls pulled within six points on a couple of occasions early in the final quarter before the Heat opened things up again with a burst of seven straight points for an 87-74 lead with just under eight minutes left. Miami coasted from there.
Heat: C Hassan Whiteside didn’t play because of a sprained right ankle suffered Wednesday night against Brooklyn.
Bulls: Part of the frustration for Wade and Butler against the Hawks was losing a game in which they combined for 73 of the Bulls’ 114 points. It was the first time they each had scored at least 30 points in a game this season.
Besides Wade and Butler not starting, all three players were fined for airing grievances in the media and on social media. General manager Gar Forman made his displeasure known in the team meeting and in individual talks with the players.
“It’s not how we want to operate,” Forman said. “It is totally unacceptable, and we made it very clear to the players that were involved that it’s unacceptable. It’s a distraction that’s not needed. I think it’s a detriment to team growth.”
Heat: Host the Pistons on Saturday night. Miami has dropped its first two games against Detroit by a combined 32 points.
Bulls: They wrap up a three-game homestand Sunday night against the Philadelphia 76ers before beginning a six-game road trip.
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