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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, February 6th (All times eastern)

Miami Heat (24-26) at Chicago Bulls (23-25), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of reeling teams jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference meet in the Windy City Saturday as the Chicago Bulls play host to the Miami Heat.

The Bulls and Heat are in a virtual tie for the final two playoff spots in the East, one game ahead of Milwaukee.

Chicago dropped its third straight game on Friday in Atlanta when Josh Smith recorded his second career triple- double, scoring 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists, as the Hawks used a huge fourth quarter to beat the struggling Bulls, 91-81.

Luol Deng had 20 points and eight rebounds to pace Chicago, which has lost the three straight after a five-game road winning streak. Derrick Rose added 19 points and six assists, as Chicago went a woeful 0-for-10 from three-point range.

Kirk Hinrich had 13 points and a season-high nine boards in defeat, while center Joakim Noah missed the contest with plantar fasciitis in his foot.

"(Atlanta) got some offensive rebounds (in the fourth quarter), (and) they made us pay for it," said Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro. "We got a little stagnant offensively. They locked up on us pretty good defensively in the fourth quarter. We missed some opportunities; we had a six-point lead going into the fourth, and they had that run in the fourth that got us back on our heels a little bit."

Noah is expected to remain sidelined until after the All-Star break.

The Heat, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight game in Cleveland on Thursday when LeBron James scored a game-best 36 points with eight assists and seven rebounds, as the Cavs used a second-half surge to bury Miami, 102-86.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 24 points and nine assists, while Michael Beasley notched a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who have lost six of seven overall.

"He played awesome. Tonight, it seemed like he didn't miss a shot. He is playing MVP basketball," Wade said of James' performance.

The Heat have taken five of their past six games with Chicago,

02/06 10:38:39 ET

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