MIAMI (AP) -- Rod Strickland's finest scoring performance of the season overshadowed his move up the NBA's career assist list.
Strickland scored 20 points and moved into seventh place on the
league's career assist list as the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to six games with a 92-79 victory over the Chicago
Bulls on Tuesday.
"When you're hitting your shots and feeling good about taking
them, you are going to keep putting it up and that's what I did,"
said Strickland, who shot 8-for-10. "Obviously, we're more
confident now. We're executing better and grinding out wins."
Eddie Jones also scored 20 points for the Heat, whose winning
streak is their longest since a seven-game run during the 1999-2000
season. The Heat won for the ninth time in 12 games.
NBA assist leaders
x-indicates player is active
Strickland had six assists, raising his career total to 7,217.
The 35-year-old Strickland entered the game tied with Lenny Wilkens
Strickland scored 16 points in the second half.
After Chicago closed within 79-73, Strickland had a critical
setup to Alonzo Mourning, who dunked and converted a three-point
play, giving Miami a nine-point lead with 1:02 remaining.
Mourning scored 17 points and Jim Jackson had 12 for the Heat, who shot 51 percent.
"I'm sure some teams will be hearing our footsteps," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "But I don't think they have any fear of us."
Ron Artest scored 24 points for Chicago, which is 2-10 in its
last 12 games. But he was 5-for-12 from the foul line.
"I've got to be able to buckle down and finish the game,"
Artest said. "I missed a lot of free throws."
Brad Miller added 19 for the Bulls, who scored 28 points off 21
The Bulls, who slipped to 1-19 on the road, played the entire
second half without leading scorer Ron Mercer, who bruised his right knee late in the second quarter.
Charles Oakley fell backward onto Mercer's knee after taking a
charging foul from Mourning with 3:27 left in the second quarter.
"I don't know what happened," Oakley said. "I just took a
Mercer was 0-for-6 from the field, and his streak of scoring in
double figures stopped at 27 games.
Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said Mercer will miss Saturday's
home game against Memphis.
"The initial indication is that it's just a bruise," Cartwright said. "We'll find out more (Wednesday) when he tries to walk around."
The first half included 12 lead changes.
Miami led 42-41 at halftime and 63-62 after three quarters. The
Heat never trailed in the second half.
Miami's resurgence has Riley believing the playoffs are a
possibility for the Heat.
"Somebody wrote in the press the other day that we should be
moving in the lottery direction, which is an absolutely asinine,
insane thought process," Riley said. "Anytime you every preach
not winning, I'd walk out the door."
Game notes Riley said Mourning, who continues to improve from a kidney
disorder, deserves to be an All-Star. "Yes, Zo is an All-Star,"
Riley said. "Right now, I think he's the best center in the
Eastern Conference." ... Srickland now trails Portland coach
Maurice Cheeks in career assists. Cheeks is sixth in league history
with 7,392. ... Oakley (12,002) crossed the 12,000 career
rebounding plateau Tuesday. ... Kevin Ollie started his third
straight game at point guard.