MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade wanted Miami to view Thursday night as a close-out opportunity, a chance for the Heat to essentially finish off a Chicago team desperate to keep its season alive.
In short, a dress rehearsal for any series-clinching scenarios that might await in the playoffs.
It went exactly to Wade's liking.
Wade scored 21 points, Joe Johnson (Little Rock Central, Arkansas Razorbacks) added 17 and the Heat beat the Bulls 106-98, putting up 66 points in the second half and making big defensive plays to pull away down the stretch.
"At this time of year, you have to use certain situations to try to prepare us because we've never been there together as a team," Wade said. "This was one of those situations."
Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside each had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, which has 14 consecutive games of scoring 100 or more at home -- the second-longest such streak in franchise history.
Luol Deng scored 13 points, Josh Richardson had 11 points and Amare Stoudemire added 10 points for the Heat (46-32), who remained fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points for the Bulls (39-40), who now need a series of miracles to get into the postseason. Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Derrick Rose scored 17 for Chicago, which could be officially eliminated as early as today.
Chicago hasn't missed the playoffs since 2007-2008, when the Bulls finished 33-49. They then beat 60-1 odds to win the draft lottery, getting the right to take Rose with the No. 1 overall pick -- while Miami, far and away the NBA's worst team that season, wound up taking Michael Beasley with the No. 2 selection.
Chicago guard Doug McDermott's flagrant foul against Hassan Whiteside late in the third quarter was unusual in many ways. Not only was it Chicago's first flagrant call of the season, it was the first time McDermott was whistled for anything other than a common foul in years. He had no flagrants or technicals in his first 117 NBA games, and no technicals in his 145 games at Creighton.
HAWKS 95, RAPTORS 87
ATLANTA -- Jeff Teague scored 23 points, Kyle Korver added 14 points and Atlanta held off Toronto.
It was one of the season's best performances for the Hawks, who remained in third place in the Eastern Conference by beating the East's No. 2 seed.
With Paul Millsap scoring 13 points and Al Horford, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mike Scott each adding 11 points, Atlanta used a balanced attack to knock off Toronto for the first time in four tries this season.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan each finished with 16 points for the Raptors.
SUNS 124, ROCKETS 115
HOUSTON -- Mirza Teletovic scored 26 points off the bench, P.J. Tucker added 24 and Phoenix dealt another blow to Houston's dwindling playoff chances.
It's the second consecutive loss for the Rockets, who entered the day in ninth place in the Western Conference after a loss at Dallas on Wednesday.
The game was back and forth through the first few minutes of the fourth quarter before the Suns took over.
They scored 10 consecutive points to take a 117-110 lead with 1:03 left.
Tyson Chandler added 21 points for the Suns. Archie Goodwin (Sylvan Hills) finished with 16 points.
James Harden led Houston with 30 points.
Sports on 04/08/2016