The Miami Heat have lost three straight games for the second time this season after falling 99-96 to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. LeBron James missed the game due to a sprained ankle, suffered during the Wednesday night loss to the L.A. Clippers that started the skid.
Dwyane Wade scored 33 points to help fill the LeBron void, but Derrick Rose one-upped him with 34. James wasn't the only Heat star with a sore ankle; Chris Bosh, the George Harrison to LeBron and Wade's Lennon and McCartney in the self-proclaimed Heatles, torqued his ankle and missed basically the entire fourth quarter. He had post-game X-rays, which came back negative.
Wade was electric late, and the Heat had a 96-95 lead with 25 seconds to go. But Carlos Boozer helped keep a Rose miss alive, and Kyle Korver turned a loose ball into a game-winning three-pointer. At the other end, a broken play resulted in a Mario Chalmers attempt for the win, but it wouldn't fall in.
The Bulls didn't get a whole lot of offense out of their No. 2 and 3 scorers, as Boozer scored 12 on 6-14 shooting and Luol Deng had 12 on 5-14 shooting. No other Bull hit double-figures; Korver played just 13 minutes off the bench, and his game-winning three-pointer was his only make in four attempts from long-range.
This was a low-pace affair; the Bulls' No. 1 defense let the Heat get pretty close to their season average on offense, even with LeBron missing. That's owed to Wade, who hit four threes, nine free throws and half his shots in total. The Heat finished their road trip 2-3, with the victories both coming in overtime. They return home to South Beach for a battle against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday; they will need to have both LeBron and Bosh available to be in position to reverse the streak.
Miami then gets some rest, with no games until next Saturday. The Bulls, meanwhile, visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday before hosting a long homestand to finish January. That six-game homestand features just two opponents with records better than .500. The Bulls are now two games behind Miami for the No. 2 seed in the East, and one game ahead of the Magic.