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O'Neal scores 24 as Heat humiliate Bulls 103-74

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[March 26, 2010]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal scored 24 points and the Miami Heat jumped out to a 30-point halftime lead Thursday night to rout the Chicago Bulls 103-74.

Pushing for a better playoff seeding, Miami's third straight victory and ninth in 12 games lifted the Heat into the No. 6 slot in the Eastern Conference, a half game ahead of idle Charlotte.

The Bulls have lost 11 of 13, including a 10-game losing streak, and are in ninth place in the East.

O'Neal shot 9 for 14, Michael Beasley added 15 points and Udonis Haslem 14 on a night when Dwyane Wade scored only 12 -- 14.5 under his average -- in 29 minutes. But Wade didn't need to score against the outmanned Bulls. The former Chicago-area prep star had 10 assists and also five rebounds in the lopsided victory.

Hakim Warrick scored 14 points, and Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 each for the Bulls.

Wade had eight first-half points, hitting a jumper just before the buzzer to give the Heat a 63-33 lead as the boos poured down on the home team at the United Center.

Miami shot 60.5 percent in the first half, while the Bulls made only 28 percent. Miami finished the game at 52 percent with many easy shots against a listless Chicago defense.


O'Neal worked at will on the inside and had easy short-range jumpers, hitting 7 of 11 and scoring 18 points in the opening half. Haslem came off the bench with 10 points in the first half and the rout was on. Chicago was without injured forward Luol Deng (calf) and Joakim Noah played limited minutes as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.

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Miami's Quentin Richardson, another former Chicago prep star, scored nine points in the final three minutes of the opening quarter as Miami closed on a 23-9 run for a 31-19 lead.

There were some heated words last time the teams met in Miami, a 108-95 Heat victory earlier this month. This time there wasn't much to say. The Heat's play did all the talking.

NOTES: The Heat's largest margin of victory this season was 34 against Indiana in December. The Bulls lost to Atlanta by 35 in December. ... Miami led 86-49 after three quarters. The Heat's biggest lead was 39. ... It was Chicago's lowest scoring game of the season.

[Associated Press; By RICK GANO]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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