Bosh and Wade step up to keep reigning champions moving.
There were eight games on the NBA schedule on Sunday night, with the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers securing significant wins over rivals in their respective conferences.
A combination of solid defense and a dual effort from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade allowed Miami to see off rivals Chicago with relative ease, as they found a way without their MVP.
“We were missing a pretty big man,” Dwyane Wade said. “There’s nothing we can do to replace the best player in the world, but we just had to go out there and play team basketball on both ends of the floor.”
Former NBA No.1 draft pick Greg Oden made his first start since December 2009 in place of LeBron James, while the Heat’s reserves helped them pull away in the third quarter as the Bulls came up short and saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
Bosh had 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Wade added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as Mario Chalmers added important production with 12 points and nine assists.
However, their effort on the defensive end was key as Chicago were hit with multiple shot-clock violations and were left disappointed with their performance.
“We weren’t playing with a good enough thrust,” guard Kirk Hinrich said. “We were slow getting into our stuff. We didn’t make quick decisions, and we got stuck fighting the clock.”
Joakim Noah had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks to continue what is becoming the best season of his career thus far, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as the Bulls fall a game further behind the Toronto Raptors for the third seed in the East.
Elsewhere, the Clippers picked up a huge win on the road at Oklahoma City Thunder, with Jamal Crawford scoring 36 points to take the spotlight from Kevin Durant despite his 42-point night.
It was undoubtedly an all-round team effort from the visitors, with Matt Barnes, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all playing key roles and getting good production to snap a two-game skid and beat the team with the league’s best record.
The loss leaves the Thunder at 43-14 but still top of the Western Conference, while the Clippers improve to 38-20 and in fourth spot.
Elsewhere, the other notable performers of the night came in Cleveland, where John Wall had 21 points and nine assists, while Kyle Lowry dropped 28 points on the Orlando Magic to help the Raptors secure the win.
Rudy Gay was in fine form for the Sacramento Kings with 32 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over the Denver Nuggets, while the Houston Rockets were able to overcome 35 points from Goran Dragic to leave Phoenix with the all-important W.
Meanwhile, Jason Collins returned to NBA action to become the first openly gay active player in the league, with Deron Williams (30 points and seven assists) ensuring it was a winning return, while Damian Lillard scored 32 points to Kevin Love’s 31 as the two enjoyed a shootout in the Portland Trail Blazers’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Los Angeles Clippers 125-117 Oklahoma City Thunder
Chicago Bulls 79-93 Miami Heat
Washington Wizards 96-83 Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic 90-105 Toronto Raptors
Sacramento Kings 109-95 Denver Nuggets
Houston Rockets 115-112 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 108-102 Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves 97-108 Portland Trail Blazers