Five takeaways from the Heat’s 117-103 win over the Bulls at United Center:
Dion Waiters might not love his reduced role, but he excelled at it Saturday:
Two days after being fined for voicing his displeasure over a lack of playing time, Dion Waiters came through off the bench on Saturday in the Heat’s win, scoring 21 points in 21 minutes. Waiters knocked down nine of his 13 shots to give him his highest point total of the season.
“I tried to put everything behind me, the frustration and things like that,” Waiters said. “Just try to go out there with a clear mind and just play. At the end of the day, I can’t control everything else. But I can control what I can control, and that’s my emotions, my attitude. i just want to go in there with a clear mind and just play.”
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Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he understands Waiters’ frustration but emphasized the need for Waiters and others to accept their roles.
“Look, we have a deep team.,” Spoelstra said. “The strength of our team is our depth. For guys that are working their way back in, such as Dion, it’s not easy. The minutes aren’t guaranteed. You have to leave an impression during the games, and that’s what he did tonight. He made his minutes memorable.”
Josh Richardson was still feeling so-so, but you couldn’t tell by his performance:
One night after missing the Pistons game due to illness, Richardson was back on the court Saturday for the Heat and led the team with 26 points.
Richardson’s 29 minutes were also the most of any Heat player.
“I felt a little bit better today and just pushed through it,” said Richardson, who made 10 of 15 shots.
Asked how sick he was on Friday, Richardson replied: “I mean, it wasn’t great.”
Said Spoelstra: “I know everybody was glad to have him back.”
The Heat’s free throw shooting was better, but hardly spectacular:
One game after making just 8 of 19 free throws, the Heat was marginally better from the charity stripe on Saturday. But only marginally.
The Heat made 14 of 23 free throws (60 percent) in its win over the Bulls and continue to rank last in the NBA at 68-percent accuracy.
Hassan Whiteside’s free throw woes continued Saturday. After going 0 for 8 in Friday’s game, Whiteside clanged both of his free throw attempts on Saturday and finished with just six total points.
Spoelstra made sure Dwyane Wade received a proper sendoff in his final game in Chicago:
Thanks to a comfortable lead late in the game, Spoelstra was able to provide Wade with a hero’s tribute in what was the final game in his hometown. Spoelstra removed Wade with just over a minute left, prompting a nice ovation at the United Center.
“That was cool,” Spoelstra said. “You hope in those situations it can all work out perfect…and then, where you can actually give him the chance for the ovation that he deserves. That was a special moment, just to see how the crowd in his hometown here reacted, and it was well-earned.”
Wade scored 14 points to go with 10 rebounds, his most since an 11-rebound game in the season-opener.
The Heat’s extra tenacity paid off in Saturday’s win:
OK, so the Heat wasn’t exactly playing the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Bulls suffered their ninth straight loss.
But Spoelstra said the Heat’s effort was a vast improvement over Friday’s game in Detroit.
“I like the way we set the tone,” Spoelstra said. “It was much different that what we did last night. There was an intention to do things better, with more purpose, and more intensity throughout the game, and that’s what we saw. It’s great when you have the opportunity 24 hours later to get out and do it again.”
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