The Heat looked better in the first half Wednesday than it did two nights before, but the Bulls still put a scare into Miami in the second game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
For a little while, anyway.
The Heat turned a close game into a rout with a 33-9 run during a portion of the second and third quarters as Miami ran away with a 115-78 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami closed out the first half on a 13-3 run that gave it a 14-point halftime lead.
From the 3:27 mark of the second quarter until the final whistle, Miami outscored Chicago 73-40.
The Heat’s 37-point win was its largest margin of victory in the postseason; the deficit was the biggest in Bulls playoff history.
“We talked about finishing, and we did a very poor job of it the other night in Game 1,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. “Not just quarters, but finishing possessions. Then we can finish quarters, finish the game.”
Miami used its strong second-quarter finish as fuel for a quick start to the third.
The Heat scored 20 of the first 26 points in the third. By the time Ray Allen sank a three-pointer with 34 seconds left in the quarter, Miami held a 31-point lead.
“They were more aggressive, more determined,’’ Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“We were back on our heels and didn’t close out the first half like we would have liked. It snowballed from there.’’
With 3:42 left in the second, the Bulls cut a comfortable Miami lead to four when Jimmy Butler completed a three-point play after being fouled by Mario Chalmers.
On the next possession, Dwyane Wade dunked. LeBron James, who had a fantastic opening half, drilled a three-pointer before feeding Wade for a layup with 2:34 left.
After Nate Robinson hit a three-pointer to cut Chicago’s deficit to eight, Norris Cole hit back-to-back threes from the left corner to give Miami the 14-point lead it would take into the locker room. James scored all 19 of his points in the opening half.
“The second unit, our job is to close out the quarters,” Cole said. “LeBron attacked the paint and I was open, aggressive and knocked the shots down. It was important to finish the quarters strong.”
The Heat kept things going in the third and scored the first five points — the biggest coming off Wade’s alley-oop dunk delivered from James.
Chris Bosh, who had been relatively quiet in the series, got into the act as well and became a factor during Miami’s big run.
Of Bosh’s 13 points, 11 came in the final four minutes of the second quarter through the end of the third.
“With this deep team, sometimes you can’t do much offensively because it’s just not there,” Bosh said. “You have to pick your spots.
“Fortunately, guys were finding me when I was cutting to the basket. I had a couple open jumpers, some free throws. It worked out. Then they adjusted to that and we moved on.’’