April 15, 2023

Heat rally to stun Bulls, will face Bucks in first round

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MIAMI — Max Strus and Jimmy Butler scored 31 points apiece, and the Miami Heat got into the playoffs by rallying in the final minutes to beat the Chicago Bulls 102-91 in an Eastern Conference play-in game Friday night.

Tyler Herro added 12 points and Bam Adebayo grabbed 17 rebounds for Miami, which trailed by six midway through the final quarter.

But Butler scored while getting fouled with 2:17 left to put Miami ahead for good, found Strus for a 3-pointer — his seventh of the night — a minute later to push the lead to five and Strus sealed it with three free throws after getting fouled on a try from beyond the arc with 40 seconds remaining.

The win gives Miami the No. 8 seed in the East, and a first-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA’s top overall seed, starting Sunday.

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 26 points and nine assists. Alex Caruso added 16 points, Zach Lavine had 15 but shot just 6-for-20 and Coby White scored 14 for the Bulls. Chicago got a road win at Toronto on Wednesday to extend its season, but couldn’t get the second road victory it needed to make the playoffs.

The Heat led by 14 in the first quarter, held as much as a 10-point lead in the third quarter, then found themselves down by six with 7:12 remaining.

A 9-3 spurt over the next 2 minutes — Butler had seven of the points, Strus had the other two — pulled the Heat into a tie, and into all-too-familiar territory. The NBA defines clutch games as those that are within five points or less in the final 5 minutes, and the Heat played a league-high 54 of them during the regular season.

Maybe it prepared them for this moment. White made a 3-pointer with 3:47 left to put the Bulls up 90-87.

The score the rest of the way: Heat 15, Bulls 1.

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