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Heat-Bulls Preview

AP - Sports

While the playoffs have been a much different story, the Miami Heat have had their share of trouble against the Chicago Bulls during the regular season.

That's even been the case when the Bulls haven't had Derrick Rose.

Following their first loss in 11 games, the Heat hope to get back on track Thursday night when they make their first trip to Chicago this season.

Since LeBron James came aboard in 2010-11, Miami (14-4) has needed only five games to win a pair of postseason series with the Bulls (7-9) - one of which came over Rose-less Chicago just seven months ago.

The regular-season series has been a tougher challenge for the Heat. They've dropped seven of 12 to the Bulls since James and Chris Bosh came aboard, including five of six in Chicago.

Miami has split its six regular-season meetings since 2010-11 when Rose has been out for the Bulls, including a 2-2 record in last season's series.

The Heat shot 51.4 percent and hit 11 for 20 from 3-point range in a 107-95 season-opening victory over visiting Chicago. James led seven players in double figures with 17 points to go along with eight assists and six rebounds.

The four-time MVP has averaged 30.8 points in his last four regular-season games at the United Center.

It's not a sure thing that Wade, who finished with 13 points in that contest, will play Thursday after being held out of Tuesday's 107-97 loss to Detroit because of knee soreness. Wade, however, has never missed any of 29 career trips to Chicago - including the postseason - since entering the league.

The Heat have gone 2-2 this season without the Chicago native, who has averaged 26.5 points in his last six regular-season visits.

Without Wade on Tuesday, LeBron James and Michael Beasley finished with 23 points apiece, but Miami had its 10-game winning streak snapped by the visiting Pistons.

''It's a miss or make league at times,'' James said after the league's most accurate team made a season-low 43.9 percent from the field. "They made. We missed.''

Following a five-game stretch in which the Bulls made 38.5 percent from the floor, they've shot 49.2 percent over their last three contests.

They reached 100 points in regulation for the first time in eight games Monday, but dropped their first home game of the season in a 131-128 triple-overtime loss to New Orleans. The Bulls have one win since Rose went down for the season with a tear in the meniscus of his right knee on Nov. 22.

''Right now a lot of things aren't going our way,'' forward Luol Deng said. ''We have to stick with it and keep fighting and keep working hard. It's not going to turn around by itself. We have to make it happen."

Deng led the Bulls with a season-high 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while playing a career regular season-high 56 minutes in Monday's loss, and Taj Gibson had a career-high 26 points and 14 boards. Mike Dunleavy added season highs with 23 points and six 3-pointers and Joakim Noah had his best game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Chicago, though, could have some weary legs even three days later. Noah and Kirk Hinrich also played 50-plus minutes, while Dunleavy played 48 and Gibson 44.

Boozer, who finished with four points in 26 minutes, had a season-best 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting on opening night in Miami. He's averaged 22.7 points and 14.7 boards in his last three regular-season meetings with the Heat.

Miami has won five straight against the Bulls, including last season's playoff series.

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