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Postgame Breakdown: Heat 108, Bulls 95

It was ugly. Then it got uglier. Bulls Heat Main

But the Heat wasn't trying to win an NBA beauty pageant at AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday night. Its goal was to continue its improved play at home and notch a much-needed victory over the Chicago Bulls.

With several key players missing for both teams, the Heat had enough personnel - even on a night when Dwyane Wade struggled - to get past the Bulls 108-95. Miami extended its season-best homecourt winning streak to five games and also gained ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Heat accomplished plenty, albeit in ugly fashion Friday. Miami moved up to seventh place in the East, with a half-game lead over Toronto and a 2-1/2 game edge over the Bulls.

Miami did it without the services of Dorell Wright, who began his two-game suspension for his DUI arrest after Wednesday night's victory against the Clippers. Miami did it without Michael Beasley, the team's second-leading scorer who sat out with a deep left thigh bruise. And Miami did it without Rafer Alston, whose indefinite suspension was upgraded to a separation for the remainder of the season.

In other words, the Rafer Alston experiment is over.

"We are at the point where we must move forward with the rest of the season during our playoff push," Heat president Pat Riley said of officially parting ways with Alston, who abruptly left the team last week after he was demoted from the starting lineup and has yet to communicate with the team.

The Heat was able to overcame all of the distraction, in part, because it faced a team that seemed to be in much worse shape. The Bulls were without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

In other words, these weren't the Bulls.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade emerged from the first quarter with as many turnovers (five) as he had points (five). That tells you the kind of night he was having. Still, he managed to close with 22 points after he scored nine in the fourth quarter. Wade really didn't wake up until he got into that little testy brush with Bulls center Brad Miller, who was called for a flagrant foul on Wade midway through the fourth quarter. Wade was aggressive, although he wasn't necessarily dominant. This was a night when his teammates had to carry their weight early and often. Even with the six total turnovers, Wade had seven assists. It helped that Jermaine O'Neal and Quentin Richardson had their games going well.

TURNING POINT: The Heat outscored the Bulls 29-18 in the third quarter, when it pushed its lead to 18 Bulls Heat Second points. The Heat shot 53 percent from the field, was 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. Miami also held the Bulls to 37 percent shooting.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Bulls were without three of their four most productive players in Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. The Heat was only without one of their four most productive players in Beasley. Advantage: Heat. That simple.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Apparently, the Heat finally wised up and realized that waiting on that phone call from Rafer Alston was time well wasted. I'm wondering what took the franchise so long. Even if you take Alston at his word that he left mainly because of a family issue, it was completely unprofessional to never get in touch with anyone in the organization to offer an explanation. The Heat severed ties for good with Alston on Friday, when Pat Riley upgraded Alston's suspension from indefinite to a parting for the rest of the season. Alston was on a prorated, one-year contract for the vet's minimum, which means his days in Miami are over. The reunion was ruined. The Heat can move on. For whatever reason, there's somewhat of a dark cloud over the franchise right now, considering the events of the past two weeks. But the Heat is putting aside the distractions of the Alston fiasco and two player arrests by winning basketball games.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Quentin Richardson and Jermaine O'Neal stepped up huge to help the Heat Bulls Heat JO overcome a night when Wade was off and Beasley was out of the lineup with an injury. Richardson, the league's most productive three-point shooter this month, tied his season high by drilling seven treys and finishing with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field. O'Neal scored a season-high 25 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field and 9 of 11 shooting from the free-throw line. That's playoff-level production. Now, they must find a way to maintain that production as the Heat's playoff push intensifies.

NEXT UP: Philadelphia 76ers at Heat, 6 p.m. Sunday - AmericanAirlines Arena.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Comments

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MW - Quentin Richardson and Jermaine O'Neal stepped up huge to help the Heat Bulls Heat JO overcome a night when Wade was off and Beasley was out of the lineup with an injury.

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Yup. Bring'em BOTH back.

I'm a Q fan from his Clipper daze. JONeal, as he said after the game, can still play. In fact, JONeal is converting at a career & Heat best 53%-54%.

It's a real joy to see vets try to bring it every night like these 2.

If Riley would stop wasting PRECIOUS time on the "promise" of youth (DWright, DaeDae), he'd be scrambling to keep the PROMISE OF PRODUCTION, i.e., his new, evolving "core" -- Wade, JOneal, Q, Beas, UD, Arroyo, Chalmers (+Magloire, maybe Anthony) -- together.

That's was such a bad game how in the world didn't the heat win by 50

well, good win.... teams like that who are in a battle to get in, come in fighting... and we have to fight as well... way to stay with in the game... they didn't have their better players due to injury, but hey we have to move forward and get ready for our next game.... the bobcats might be down a man... wallace went down, i'm not sure how bad his injury is but lets keep an eye on that... every game will be fun to watch... i like this time of the year... but when the defense has a plan for wade, we have to adjust and coach you have to take a time out and reset the offense... go thru someone else until who ever that is that is giving us problems, is in foul trouble or on the bench, or something... slight adjustment or even counter move... the chess match thickens... but thats the fun with in the game... now the players have to be up for the challenge to keep this ship moving foward... the best thing about this is, our schedule favors us going down the stretch, and the other teams are going to come back to the pack and all we haveto do is handle our games and we should move up, i see the 6 seed... but who knows, when players are playing as hard as these guys are it's something to be careful with... so be careful yalll....

See the forest for the trees. The bulls were depleted without 3 of their top players and they still hasseled dwyane all night. Good win, but not telling of how well perform in the playoffs against better, HEALTHY teams

hey ben, you see that bridge??? take a hard right.... morning every body...

i think everybody thats here should keep an eye on the ncaa tourny... at least this way we have some dialog after the season... i like kalin lucas, msu... ed sosa, lou... wright, gtwn... just watch yall, geez...

Way to go Heat... keep fighting and Beasley come back soon kid.

sixers are playing good ball and we can't take them lightly... get some rest and some treatment, because we have a battle on our hands.... the thing that they don't have is a good record but they are fighting like their in a playoff race too... but hey, just another test... let's get this win...

i think ALSTON is done with us this season... so can we fill the spot of ALSTON??? then maybe i think it could be better for us if we got to waived DIAWARA as well???

if we are allow to fill the ALSTON spot we should try to find a decent young player on D-LEAGUE....

thoughts???

what do you think guys on SHAUN LIVINGSTON as point guard... he is now playing at WIZARDS... also HE just only have a 10 day contract... what if we sign HIM also a 10 day contract when the WIZARD would not sign HIM after HIS 10 day contract....

thoughts???

My thoughts on the Shaun Livingston suggestion is that we had him all last year remember??? He couldn't crack the rotation it sucks for him that his camp keeps on saying he's healthy, but he still wears a bulky brace and has no explosiveness. He was never that good skill wise but his height and athleticism made him dope. How about Marbury as a quick slide in? He's doing great in China putting up all-star numbers and I heard he doesn't want to be there anymore.

ALSO IT'S A SHAME HOW MANY COMMENTS THERE IS WHEN THE HEAT WIN A GAME BUT EVERYBODY COMES OUT THE WOODWORK TO PUT THEIR TWO CENTS IN WHEN THE TEAM LOSES!!!!!!! I GUESS NOW THAT WERE ABOUT TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS WIN THE SAME AMOUNT OF GAMES AS LAST YEAR OR MAYBE MORE THEY ARE NO MORE "HATE RILEY" COMMENTS. I"M GLAD THE HEAT STUCK TO THEIR GUNS AND WEATHER THE STORM TO CONTINUE WITH THE GAME PLAN.

I also been watching a lot of Toronto games recently and I think Chris Bosh should be our number one guy we go after. I think Wade, Beasley, and Bosh can all co-exist in the offense because neither guy holds on to the ball too long. Bosh is really quick and precise with his post moves and he also has range to step out. Also he gets a lot of garbage points because of his rebounding. I like Boozer but I think he can be a black hole at times and I don't think Beasley will have room to grow playing with a Boozer and a Wade.

Lets go Heat and take care of business against the Sixers. Toronto lost again so lets take advanmtage and keep climbing up the playoff seedings.

i think we should've traded for some more first round picks... even if we don't draft anyone, we still have chips... cp3 will be available... and bosh or amare should be our starting 4 next season.... but john wall or cousins are both gtood young players who would fit here...

Evan Turner is waaaaaay better than Wall. He has size and speed with a way better shot than Wall. I don't think Wall is a for sure lock for 1st pick anymore. Also Cousin is not ready to contribute in an NBA game yet. He can't guard quicker opponents and he's not polish on the offensive end. I think if he does enter the draft he will be an extreme project. Plus Cousin help Kentucky win the game today but he was being handle on the defensive end today.

Big cat says GE OUTTA MY PAINT JASON KAPONO!!!!!

ok EVAN TURNER may be good to our team... but then how could we get HIM during the 2010 DRAFT???

Not saying we can or we if we even need him. I was just saying I thing Evan Turner is a whole better than John Wall. He can do everything John Wall can do and things Wall can't do. As I say all of this I'm tired of draft picks I want proven bodies for a championships. Let Beasley be our only young project please....

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