MIAMI — It was all hands on deck Saturday. Well, at least the ones that were healthy and well-sanitized.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, there were several key unexpected no-shows.
Down seven players after guard Ayo Dosunmu and forward Stanley Johnson became the latest Bulls to go into the NBA’s health-and-safety protocol earlier in the day, coach Billy Donovan was counting on a modified ‘‘Big Three’’ of Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball to carry the day.
LaVine did his part by scoring 33 points, but Vucevic and Ball combined to go 8-for-30 from the field as the Heat walloped the undermanned Bulls 118-92 at FTX Arena.
Ball (5-for-15) gets a bit of a pass, considering he has had games such as this during the season and has bounced back in the next game. Vucevic (3-for-15), however, has been stringing bad game after bad game a bit too often and appeared to let his frustration boil over against the Heat.
‘‘It’s tough when you want to play well and go out there and help the team win and don’t do your job,’’ Vucevic said. ‘‘I have a lot of pride in myself and put the work in, obviously. It’s not working for me right now, but that’s part of it. I’ve never been through a slump like this, and I just have to work myself out of it. I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do.’’
Not that Vucevic was alone. The Bulls’ defense was poor from the start, allowing the Heat to shoot 49.5% from the field and get to whatever spot they wanted to on the floor.
With Alex Caruso (hamstring) on a minutes watch and still not looking 100% getting up and down the court, Donovan turned quickly to forward Alfonzo McKinnie — who was making his Bulls debut after a practice and a cram session Friday and another cram session before the game — as his first option off the bench.
It wasn’t as though the Heat were at full strength, either. They were without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Markieff Morris and Caleb Martin, but they didn’t feel sorry for the Bulls’ problems.
The Heat sent that message quickly and from long range. They scored 39 points in the first quarter, thanks in large part to 9-for-14 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry made three each.
Knowing the Bulls didn’t have a lot of options, LaVine did his best to keep them in the game by scoring 15 points in the second quarter. The Bulls were within shouting distance at 65-52 at the half, but things didn’t get any better after the break.
The Bulls were outscored 21-18 in the third quarter before the Heat turned the game into a laugher in the fourth. Soon after Max Strus and Dewayne Dedmon had thunderous dunks, Donovan waved the white flag.
Now he is just hoping Vucevic can get out of his rut sooner than later.
‘‘The frustration can’t hijack him from doing other things,’’ Donovan said of Vucevic. ‘‘I trust him and believe in him. Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t see him working. He’s putting the work in.’’