For a second straight game, the Bulls played the Heat at home, coming off a Friday night 102-97 win. They fell flat in this one, losing 118-100.
Here are 10 observations from the game:
--- Against a smaller Miami Heat team, Billy Donovan opted to keep Alex Caruso in the starting lineup. This marked his third straight start since taking over Torrey Craig, who took over Patrick Williams before him. More on Caruso later. Donovan said postgame he plans to stick with Monday's starting lineup going forward.
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--- It appeared another slow start --- a tendency the Bulls have fallen prey to over the past few games --- was unfolding in the first frame. Down 12-2 a few minutes into the game, Donovan called for a timeout. However, the Bulls stormed back with an 8-0 run following the timeout. They finished the first quarter down six points, 33-27, but found themselves down 12 at halftime.
"Certainly, we've talked about the starts we've gotten off to early in games," Donovan said after the game "(We've) looked at some different starting rotations, played some different rotations, do some different things to try to get back to a level of consistency."
--- Patrick Williams didn't earn a single minute in the first quarter. The rest of the normal cast off the bench, however, did. Ayo Dosunmu, Andre Drummond, Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter all got tick in the first frame. Williams got into the game at the beginning of the second quarter. More on him later.
--- Duncan Robinson quickly earned himself KYP (Know Your Personnel) after starting perfectly from the game shooting-wise. Williams stumped him upon checking in the second quarter, keeping him to 11 points in the first half after a lethal beginning. Robinson finished with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
--- In the first quarter, Erik Spoelstra implemented a trap action for the Heat's defense in two straight possessions on Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine. Each time, the Bulls turned the ball over. They only tried it once more in the third quarter with DeMar DeRozan, however, which certainly came as a surprise. Food for thought.
--- Coby White was spectacular against the Heat. He finished with 20 points, a season-high for the starting point guard. His defensive tenacity really stuck out to me. He got in Bam Adebayo's grill on one occasion, forcing a steal. And he telepathed a patented Kevin Love full-court bomb to earn the steal; he followed that up with a bucket-and-the-foul layup on the other end.
"Obviously you always want to see the ball go in," White said after the game when asked if he needed a successful game like Monday's for his confidence. "For me, it's just sticking to my habits. Continue to do what I'm supposed to do off the court and on the court. Staying mentally ready. Be ready to shoot. Be ready to make a play."
--- Alex Caruso's shown his development with his shot on offense early this season. But against the Heat, he flashed a nice crossover into a 3-point shot over Adebayo --- taking advantage of the mismatch. Rarely do we see Caruso create his own offense, but it appears he's getting a larger role on that end of the floor. On that end, Caruso is now on a six-game double-digit scoring streak, the longest of his career, according to Bulls PR.
--- The Bulls lost the 3-point battle by a sizeable margin. Shooting 11-of-37 themselves, the Heat finished 17-of-35 from beyond the arc. The main culprits for the Heat were Robinson (5), Kevin Love (3) and Jaime Jacquez Jr. (3).
--- This is the second game in a row LaVine's been quiet on offense. On Monday, he took nine shots, scoring 13 points. That production from your star player won't win you games, certainly. Donovan recognized it postgame, saying he feels LaVine is playing unselfishly and trying to make the right basketball play.
But, they need him to be more aggressive.
"I want him to always know he needs to be aggressive," Donovan said. "That doesn't necessarily mean he needs to shoot the ball all the time. But he's got to be aggressive."
--- The last six games for the Bulls provided a friendly slate for the squad. After two local road games against the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, they got four straight at home against two opponents: the Magic and the Heat. That ended Monday and the Bulls finished 2-4 in that six-game stretch.
Now, they'll go on a third-game road trip, mostly on the East Coast. They're in Toronto to face the Raptors for their third In-Season Tournament game; then, they'll head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets; two days later, they'll play their final In-Season Tournament group play game against the Boston Celtics.