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Wednesday, March 14th (All times eastern)
Miami Heat (31-10) at Chicago Bulls (35-9), 9:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The two top teams in the Eastern Conference will renew hostilities in the Windy City on Wednesday, when the top-seeded Bulls play host to No. 2 Miami.
Things are shaping up in a similar fashion to last season when Chicago took the top spot in the East but ultimately faltered against the Heat in the conference finals.
The Bulls are currently 2-1 on a six-game homestand after Monday's 104-99 win over slumping New York. Derrick Rose scored 32 points and helped Chicago pull away down the stretch en route to the victory.
Rose added seven assists and six rebounds as the Bulls improved to 10-1 over their last 11 games. The reigning MVP wasn't all that happy, though, and was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for publicly criticizing the officials.
After Rose went to the free-throw line just nine times after taking 29 shots against the Knicks, he said, "I have to be the only superstar in the league who's going through what I'm going though. But I can't say too much about it."
Chicago also received a spark off the bench against New York from Taj Gibson, who contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Joakim Noah added 12 and 10 in the win as the team continued to play without All-Star Luol Deng (wrist) as well as key contributors Rip Hamilton (shoulder) and C.J. Watson (ankle). The Bulls hope to have Deng back in the lineup tonight.
"We're a confident group...but we can still get better," Noah said. "We just need to keep improving to get to where we want to get to."
Miami is coming in off a heartbreaking 104-98 overtime loss to Orlando in the opener of a tough three-game road trip on Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade scored 28 points and LeBron James had 19 with 11 rebounds and eight assists in that one to lead the Heat, who had a three-game overall winning streak snapped and lost their third straight on the road for the second time this season.
"We had opportunities in the fourth quarter and in overtime but we weren't able to capitalize on them. It was a very competitive game," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Miami, which is 13-8 as the visitor on the year, will finish its brief trek against another East contender, Philadelphia, on Friday.
The Heat have won five straight over the Bulls dating back to the postseason a year ago when Miami topped Chicago in five games during the East finals.
The Heat won the only game against the Bulls so far this season, 97-93, in south Florida on Jan. 29 behind James' 35 points.
03/14 10:37:22 ET
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