(Reuters) - The Miami Heat tightened their grip on the Eastern Conference by routing the Chicago Bulls 86-67 on Thursday.
With the NBA's trade deadline passing without any change among top contenders, LeBron James missed just four shots while compiling 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as Miami won their ninth straight and stretched their conference lead to 5 1/2 games.
Miami (38-14) grabbed a 45-35 halftime lead and cruised against a Chicago team struggling to find offense.
Nate Robinson paced the home Bulls with 14 points but they lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Sliding down the standings, Chicago (31-23) are still clinging to the hope that Derrick Rose can return from the knee injury that has sidelined him for the entire season.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp