MIAMI — Up by 19 at halftime, the Miami Heat were rolling.
By game’s end, they were reeling.
And their playoff hopes are now, at best, ailing.
Miami’s trying season is now on the brink, after Chicago not only pulled off a staggering comeback but made it look easy.
Pau Gasol had 16 points and 15 rebounds, Aaron Brooks and Taj Gibson each added 14 points and the Bulls beat the Heat 89-78 on Thursday night — dealing Miami’s postseason chances a major blow.
“Once we started getting into them, getting rebounds, containing them to one shot, things turned around,” Gasol said.
Oh, they turned around, and in a hurry. Miami led 51-32 at the half, winning the second quarter 33-12 after Chicago’s worst-shooting opening 24 minutes of the season.
“It was embarrassing,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said.
So was the second half — albeit for the other team. Chicago outscored the Heat 57-27 after intermission, scoring 39 of the first 47 points in the second half. Miami’s huge lead was gone in less than 10 minutes, as the Heat missed their first 12 shots of the third quarter and the freefall never ceased.
“We’re all frustrated,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re all embarrassed when you’re in those situations and you can’t stop an avalanche like that.”
Mike Dunleavy and Derrick Rose each had 12 for Chicago, which moved back into the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings and won despite Jimmy Butler being held out with a calf injury.
Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat. Dwyane Wade scored nine points, shooting just 4 for 20. Goran Dragic had 15 points for Miami and Michael Beasley scored 13.
The Bulls scored the first 11 points of the second half, then went on a 24-3 run over another 7-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters.
By then, the game was gone. So, perhaps, is the season. Miami remained in the No. 10 spot in the Eastern Conference race with three games left, but now almost certainly needs to win out and get plenty of help to get back to the postseason.
“You just keep coming back until they tell you your season is over,” Wade said. “This team has been through a lot. … A loss, a bad 24 minutes, that’s not going to deter us from coming back and doing our job.”
Miami can get to 38 wins. Boston and Brooklyn, the current holders of the No. 7 and No. 8 spots, have 36.
“Still in it,” Wade said.
The comeback was such that Rose’s second game of his latest comeback tour almost seemed irrelevant.
Rose made three field goals in the entirety of Wednesday’s game at Orlando; he matched that in a 68-second span of the first quarter Thursday, with a step-back, followed by a dunk and a pullup jumper.
Those were about the extent of his highlights on Thursday, as he finished 5 for 15 from the field in just over 20 minutes.
Then again, the Bulls didn’t seem to need him.
“He’s still finding his rhythm,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Bulls: Gasol took 11 shots in the first quarter, the sixth time this season he’s reached double digits in that category in the opening 12 minutes. … Rose has faced Miami 21 times, and made more than half his shots in any of those games only twice.
Heat: It was the second-largest blown lead for the Heat this season, topped only by the 23-pointer against Philadelphia on Dec. 23. … Dragic appeared in his 500th regular-season game. … Wade sought out Rose for a hug just before tip-off.
Gasol got his league-best 51st double-double of the season, extending his career high in that department. At 34, he’s on pace to become the NBA’s oldest leader in double-doubles since Patrick Ewing did so (also at 34) in the 1996-97 season.
1 AND 2 REUNITED
Forever linked by the 2008 draft when they went No. 1 and No. 2, Thursday marked the 10th time — but first in more than four years — that Rose and Beasley appeared in the same game. The last was March 30, 2011.
Bulls: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.
Heat: Host Toronto on Saturday.