CHICAGO — Observations and other notes of interest from Monday night’s 118-100 victory over the Chicago Bulls:
– The reinforcement of the bench helped, without a doubt.
– But it was about more than just points or statistics.
– It was about how the Heat bench contributed.
– It was Kevin Love shooting three-pointers with confidence.
– This was Josh Richardson attacking the rim at one point for a dramatic follow-up dunk, otherwise scoring on assured jumpers.
– It was Jaime Jaquez Jr., for 3, again and again, even if that’s not necessarily the rookie’s preferred shot.
– And it was Caleb Martin who at least returned to the court, as his slow comeback continues.
– With Tyler Herro out, it could have meant compromised depth over the final two weeks, especially with Duncan Robinson moved into the starting lineup.
– But nights like this offer real hope, especially when it happens on the road.
– At one point, the Heat were looking at Dru Smith and Thomas Bryant.
– Now they seem to have what they need.
– Confidence with nine.
– Very soon to reach 10 with Herro.
– Again it was Bam Adebayo, Haywood Highsmith, Jimmy Butler, Robinson and Kyle Lowry as the Heat’s starting five.
– Inactive for the Heat were Herro, Nikola Jovic, Jamal Cain, Cole Swider and RJ Hampton.
– It was Love and Jaquez again as the Heat’s first two substitutes.
– Martin continued.
– Martin said he did not have a specific minutes restriction in his third game back for 10 minutes due to knee soreness, but that there is an understanding with the coaching staff.
– Richardson went nine deep.
– Richardson’s second point was the 6,000th of his career.
– Richardson’s sixth point moved him past Bimbo Coles for 20th place on the Heat’s all-time scoring list.
– Love’s opening period was cut short by two fouls in its first five minutes.
– Adebayo then returned, in place of a Bryant tackle.
– Adebayo tied Tim Hardaway and Eddie Jones for seventh on the Heat’s all-time list with his 315th career scoring game in double figures.
– Adebayo’s fifth free throw attempt was the 1,500th of his career.
– Lowry’s first triple was the 2,100th of his career.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked before the game about learning to win without Herro, who remains out with his Grade 2 ankle sprain.
– “We’re working on it,” he said, “and in the meantime, you can still win games, and that’s what we’ve found a way to do. That’s also a talent a team can acquire. We know we have areas we need to improve and we are aware that our offense in the fourth quarter will improve. “That’s all I’m looking for.”
– Spoelstra added: “In the meantime, we can win some games while we work on these teachable moments.”
– Bulls coach Billy Donovan spoke before the game about Chicago guard Zach LaVine declining a request for a televised interview following Saturday’s win over the Heat.
– “It has been handled internally,” Donovan said.
– The incident followed reports that LaVine was seeking a trade.
– “My conversations with him have been more about the basketball part, how me and the staff can help him, what he’s seeing out there, how he can impact slow starts,” Donovan said. “I didn’t see anything different from him in that locker room when I walked in. I didn’t see a guy who wasn’t in the locker room or a different room or upset or pouting or turning away. I spoke to him after the game. He spoke to the players after the game. I saw a normal Zach there.”
– Donovan was again asked before the game about his team’s slow starts.
– “We have a selfless group that is willing to try to move basketball,” he stated. “Vooch (Nikola Vucevic), Zach and DeMar (DeRozan), those three guys, in particular, have generated a lot of shots for others. They also have to be aggressive. Everyone plays to move the ball, to help each other, but we also have to be able to attack from different points when we have it. Especially when we are in lockdown situations. We have to be able to handle them better.”