Miami Heat

Heat beats Bulls, but fails to clinch playoff spot, loses starter to sprained ankle

The Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow slam dunks the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on March 29, 2018.
The Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow slam dunks the ball in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on March 29, 2018. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Miami Heat’s quest to clinch a playoff spot continues — and so does the search for the day when somebody on the roster isn’t dealing with an injury.

On a night when Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo returned from the ranks of the injured, the Heat lost starting shooting guard Tyler Johnson to a sprained right ankle in the second quarter in its 103-92 victory over the Chicago Bulls at AmericanAirlines Arena.

With 6:07 left in the first half, Johnson made a layup in traffic and then landed awkwardly. He immediately reached for the ankle as he laid on the court. Johnson remained in the game for another four minutes before heading to the locker room for good.

It’s unclear how bad the sprain is, but Johnson, who has missed 10 games this season because of various injuries, sprained the same ankle in Chicago back in January and missed the next five games. The Heat has had 14 players combine to miss 233 games this season because of injury — among the most in the league.

On Thursday, Josh Richardson and Goran Dragic helped pick up the scoring slack with Johnson out. Richardson led the Heat with 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting and All-Star Dragic added 17 points (6 of 11 shooting).

Miami held the lottery-bound Bulls (24-51) to 36.7 percent shooting and 7 of 27 from three-point range. The Heat is now 13-2 this season when it holds opponents under 40 percent from the field.

Whiteside, who returned to action after missing the last nine games because of a strained left hip flexor, played 20 minutes and had eight points (on 3 of 8 shooting), seven rebounds, a career-high matching four assists, a steal and a pair of blocks.

Adebayo, who missed one game with a sprained right ankle, played 12 minutes and had three points including a vicious alley-oop dunk on an assist from Dwyane Wade in the first half.

With Thursday’s win, Miami (41-35) moved to a half game behind sixth-seeded Washington (41-34), who lost in Detroit. With a Wizards win Thursday both Miami and Washington would have clinched playoff spots.

On Saturday, the Heat host Brooklyn, the Pistons (35-40) play at the Knicks and the Wizards host the Hornets.

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