Published — Saturday 23 February 2013
Last update 22 February 2013 11:17 pm
CHICAGO: The Miami Heat tightened their grip on the Eastern Conference by routing the Chicago Bulls 86-67 on Thursday.
With the NBA’s trade deadline passing without any change among top contenders, LeBron James missed just four shots while compiling 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as Miami won their season-high ninth straight and stretched their conference lead to 5 1/2 games.
“We’re putting together some good basketball right now,” James told reporters. “If we don’t turn the ball over, we get good shots at the rim, we have a good chance to win.”
Miami (38-14) grabbed a 45-35 halftime lead and cruised against a Chicago team struggling to find offense without 2011 MVP Derrick Rose, who is hoping to return from a knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines this season.
After his brother had criticized Chicago ahead of the game for not making moves before the trade deadline, Rose said in a statement he and the Bulls were on the same page.
“I have always felt that the Bulls organization’s goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city,” he said.
Chicago (31-23) looks far off championship contenders after losing for the fifth time in seven games.
Nate Robinson had 14 points for the Bulls, who were without Kirk Hinrich due to a sore elbow and committed 26 turnovers.
The Heat got 17 points from Dwyane Wade and 12 from Bosh.
In Los Angeles, Tony Parker scored 31 points and the San Antonio Spurs led all the way in beating the Los Angeles Clippers 116-90 for their fifth straight victory and first over the Clippers this season.
The Spurs improved to an NBA-best 22-10 on the road, where they’ve also won five in a row.
Parker had seven assists and no turnovers in 28 minutes and Danny Green added 15 points. The West-leading Spurs tied their season-best with 59-percent shooting, hit eight 3-pointers and made 22 of 28 free throws. They had lost both previous meetings with the Clippers in November.
Matt Barnes scored 18 points, Blake Griffin had 17 points and Jamal Crawford 15 points as the Clippers’ four-game winning streak ended in their first game after the All-Star break.