Chicago (13-15) at Miami (15-12)

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  • Game info: 5:00 pm EST Fri Dec 26, 2008
  • TV: ESPN
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Seven months ago, Chicago Bulls general manager John Paxson had the difficult task of choosing between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley with the first pick of the draft.

Both players were viewed as future stars that could fill major holes for Chicago, but in the end, Paxson went with the hometown product.

In the first meeting between the top two picks of this year’s draft, Rose and the Bulls look to break out of their road funk on Friday when they visit Beasley and the Miami Heat.

“I can’t do anything but treat it like another game,” Rose said. “We need a win too badly, especially on the road, for me to think about anything else.”

The same can’t be said for Beasley, who admits to holding a grudge over being selected No. 2 instead of No. 1 in the June 26 draft.

“Me and Derrick Rose, that’s irrelevant,” Beasley said. “It’s me and Chicago, Miami and Chicago. I’ve been thinking about this game for a long time, just because they didn’t pick me. It’s nothing against them. It’s natural.”

With a lucky bounce from a ping-pong ball in May, Chicago (13-15) won the draft lottery despite a 1.7 percent chance. It vaulted from the ninth pick to the top overall selection.

The Bulls picked Rose, who played a year at Memphis after playing his high school ball at Simeon Career Academy on Chicago’s South Side, and he has emerged as a star. He leads all rookies in assists with 6.1 per game and is second among first-year players in scoring (17.5 ppg).

“We talked so much about it. We really did,” Paxson said shortly after drafting Rose over Beasley. “Very honestly, at the end when we made our decision, it was unanimous with my scouts and coaches and myself. This was the direction we wanted to go in the end, and it has nothing to do with the talent of Michael Beasley. This had everything to do with the direction we felt was right for us.”

While Rose has been the starting point guard for all 28 of Chicago’s games, Beasley started Miami’s first 15 before coming off the bench in his last 11 contests and seeing his minutes reduced by more than 10 per game. He’s fourth among rookies in scoring (13.3 ppg), but he’s seventh in rebounding (4.8 rpg) after leading the NCAA with 12.4 boards per game as a freshman at Kansas State last season.

“Michael will continue to get his opportunity. He is in the rotation,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not just a steady incline with young guys. You have to live with the ups and the downs.”

While Beasley has the benefit of not being the main man in Miami (15-12) because clearly that role belongs to Dwyane Wade, Rose does not play alongside any superstars who can carry the team and Chicago has been struggling.

The Bulls have lost five straight away from home and have a 3-12 road record, compared to 10-3 at the United Center.

They are coming off a 104-98 defeat at Detroit on Tuesday. Chicago trailed 32-19 after the first quarter and has not led after the opening period in four consecutive games.

“I have no idea why we keep going down early (in games),” said Rose, who had 10 points and five assists in 21 minutes before fouling out for the first time. “I guess that we just need to look at more tape and see what is happening. Coach (Vinny Del Negro) talks about it every day in practice but we just need to figure it out.”

While Chicago is just out of the playoff picture in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, the Heat (15-12) are in sixth place with Wade averaging a league-high 29.0 points.

He’s averaged 36.7 points during the Heat’s current three-game winning streak as they have reached the 15-win mark in 27 games - 55 fewer than they needed to get there last season as the NBA’s worst team.

“I don’t want to make too much of it,” said Udonis Haslem, who scored 16 points in Tuesday’s 96-88 win over Golden State. “Last season was a tough season for everybody. We’re past that now.”

The Heat dropped two of three matchups with the Bulls in 2007-08, losing the two in which Wade played even though the Chicago native averaged 27.0 points. Miami has won just two of the last eight meetings.

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Friday, Dec 26