MIAMI – Sunday, it was Mike Dunleavy’s turn.
Shutout in the first half, maybe suffering through the South Beach effect from Saturday night, Dunleavy scored 19 third-quarter points, hitting 7-of-8 shots, including all three 3-pointers he took, as the Bulls sprinted past the Heat, 93-75 at the American Airlines Arena.
The Bulls improved to 15-8, but bigger picture? They continued to show the depth of the roster, and that on any given night a different hand can get hot.
“Yeah, I mean it was your typical I think Sunday in Miami,’’ Dunleavy described of his performance. “It seemed like everybody had a big Saturday night.
“That was the plan all along. We came out and were going to kind of slow roll them in the first half. And then Coach really wanted to unleash me in the second. That was the game plan all along. So I just knew I had to be ready.’’
Obviously sarcasm from the veteran forward, but not exactly far from the truth.
It seems like every night it’s someone different. In the win over Portland it was Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks. Against Brooklyn, Pau Gasol had 16 points and 16 rebounds. It’s almost like pick a poison.
“It’s great,’’ Dunleavy said of the equal opportunity scoring that’s been going on. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who are willing passers that hit you when you’re open. We’ve got a lot of weapons, guys coming off the bench, guys we can throw it to in the low post. You name it, we got it. I think our offense is coming around. And I think we can still get a lot better. That’s the nice part about being 22 games in. We’ve got room for a lot of growth.’’
And the one player that seems to be taking full advantage of that is Rose.
After a slow first half in which he had only three points and was 1-for-6 from the field, the 2011 MVP eased his way back into the game in the second half, including an 11-point fourth quarter that put the Heat (11-13) on ice.
“Who knows?’’ Rose said, when asked how good this offense can be. “We’re trying to find out right now. Every night it could be someone different, you know? Jimmy [Butler] played through his little illness tonight. I think he was sick a little bit and played through it, and we found our way through it. At first it was tough, but we ended up finding out how to get out in the game when we started running, playing defense, rebound, and make sure we put pressure on them on the offensive end.’’
And as for that slow start for Rose, he finished with 14 points, including three assists.
“Thibs always tells me that I should be more aggressive in the fourth quarter, no matter what the score of the game is,’’ Rose said. “Just getting up the reps.’’
Yes, Miami was without Chris Bosh (calf injury), but the Bulls were down a Joakim Noah. As for old friend Luol Deng, he finished with 17 points in the loss.
The Bulls were led by Dunleavy’s 22 points, as well as his four rebounds and two blocked shots.
“It’s sort of like the NBA Jam arcade game,’’ Dunleavy said. “Honestly, you get to that third one where you make three in a row and then if you make four, you know you’re in a zone and keep shooting it.
“There’s not much suspense as a shooter when you get in those zones.’’