CHICAGO: The Miami Heat breezed to a 100-88 win over Chicago on Friday (Saturday in Manila), capping a drama-filled day for the beleaguered Bulls in which stars Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler were left off the starting lineup.
Wade and Butler were benched to start the first quarter as punishment for comments criticizing teammates two nights earlier.
While the benchings didn’t last past the first quarter the impact was obvious. Butler shot a miserable one-of-13 for three points, with Wade making six-of-17 for 15 points.
Butler entered the game 5:07 into the first quarter while Wade came in 28 seconds later.
Wade and Butler’s earlier remarks prompted guard Rajon Rondo to fire back on social media with comments that indirectly called out Wade and Butler.
Wade tried to mend some fences after Friday’s contest.
“Everyone gets an opportunity to express themselves,” he said. “I said my comments after the game and you deal with them as a team and we move on to play basketball.
“I can’t speak for everyone but I have no hard feelings.”
The apparent dissension in the locker room carried over into the game.
In the second quarter Butler removed himself from the game after he was whistled for a foul. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg did not have a substitute ready, and forward Taj Gibson scrambled to come off the bench to replace Butler.
“I just didn’t make shots. I am not down on myself,” Butler said following Friday’s game. “I am still going to be who I am. Still work, come back in this bad baby on Sunday.”
The Heat were fuelled by 26 points from guard Goran Dragic and 19 from backcourt partner Dion Waiters as Miami added a whole other level to the woes of the Bulls, who lost their second straight at home.
Wade and Butler were harshly critical of their teammates after a 119-114 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
“I’m 35 years old, man. I’ve got three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys,” Wade said after the Bulls’ late-game collapse. “They have to want it. … It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this.”
Butler echoed those remarks, saying teammates “just got to care if we win or lose.”
Rondo responded via Instagram on Thursday: the four-time All-Star — who won an NBA title with Boston in 2008 — posted a picture of himself with former Celtics teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, commenting, “My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team.”
“The young guys work,” he wrote. “They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.”