Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 10/29

Game 1: Tuesday, October 29th
Game 2: Thursday, December 5th
Game 3: Sunday, February 23rd
Game 4: Sunday, March 9th

Bulls 79

(29-26, 13-16 away)

Heat 93

(40-14, 21-4 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    3:40 PM ET, February 23, 2014

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 24 16 12 2779
    MIA 20 20 25 2893

    Top Performers

    Chi: J. Noah 20 Pts, 15 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Blk

    Mia: D. Wade 23 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Bulls-Heat Preview

    Several years ago, an injury to LeBron James' right elbow spawned a parity Twitter account dubbed 'LeBronsElbow' that still exists.

    Something similar regarding James' nose could be in the works considering the good-natured ribbing the four-time league MVP is enduring now.

    James will sit out Sunday's marquee home matchup against a Chicago Bulls team searching for a season-high sixth straight victory.

    During the 2009-10 season, James' right elbow injury resulted in a phony Twitter account that currently has nearly 23,000 followers and demonstrates the popularity of the NBA's brightest star.

    Now it's another body part that is in the spotlight after James' nose was bloodied by Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka on a drive in Thursday's 103-81 road win. James sat out the final six minutes, finishing with 33 points, seven rebounds and matching a season high with eight turnovers.

    He looked groggy and wore a large bandage over the bridge of his swollen, broken nose Saturday as he sat out practice.

    "It has been better," James said. "It's a little bit of everything -- pain, headaches, whatever. I have to get past it and hopefully get better in the next day. I'm definitely not going to rush it."

    James was to be fitted for a protective mask but won't get a chance to wear it against the Bulls. That would likely result in more teasing from the Heat (39-14), who had fun at his expense Saturday.

    Coach Erik Spoelstra said a doctor fixed James' nose Friday to "make it look prettier."

    "You can't be sensitive in this locker room," forward Chris Bosh said. "He's still a good-looking guy. He's still married. I don't think his wife is going anywhere."

    Miami has won 10 of 12 as it faces a club it has eliminated in two of the last three postseasons that is also feeling confident. The Bulls (29-25) have been a thorn in the Heat's side in the past, and they would like to see Miami at full strength.

    "Of course we want LeBron to play," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "We hope his nose is OK. It's going to be a good game on Sunday."

    These teams have split two meetings, with each winning at home. The Bulls are a different team now, having traded away Luol Deng since those matchups, but their belief remains high.

    "We feel like we can compete against them; we've beaten them before," Noah said. "They're playing at a high level right now, they're playing really good basketball. They're locked in but we're locked in too so we're confident we can go out there and get it done."

    James is shooting 42.9 percent against Chicago this year for his lowest mark against any team, with only two others holding him under 50.0. He has totaled only 38 points in the two meetings.

    Chicago has limited foes to 85.6 points per game during this win streak capped by Friday's 117-89 home rout of Denver.

    "We feel like we're playing at a high level," forward Taj Gibson said. "Our defense is phenomenal, I think."

    Chicago's defense faces the ultimate test against a Miami team leading the NBA at 51.0 percent from the field. That mark is the league's highest since the 1994-95 Utah team shot 51.2 percent.

    "The important thing is to not look backwards and to stay locked into getting ready for Miami," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We gotta know them well. Obviously they're a great team, they're the defending champion, everybody's chasing them. So just be ready for Sunday, nothing more than that."

    The Bulls are unsure of the status of starting guard Jimmy Butler, who left in the first quarter Friday with a rib injury.


    Research Notes

    Greg Oden is starting today for the Heat. Oden hasn't started a game since December 5, 2009.
    The Heat shot 9 of 13 and scored 23 points off Mario Chalmers pick-and-rolls Sunday with most of the production coming in the second half. Chalmers ran the pick-and-roll 11 times in the second half (four in the first half), producing 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting.
    The Heat shot a season-low 48.7 percent from inside the paint Sunday, but taking away the interior opened up the floor for Chris Bosh. Bosh attempted 23 shots Sunday, 18 of which were catch-and-shoots from 10-plus feet out.
    During his first two seasons in Miami, the Heat were awful when LeBron James did not play. They've been much better without James over the last two seasons.
    From Elias: Erik Spoelstra earned his 300th win today, becoming just the sixth coach in NBA history to win 300 games before his 150th loss.
    Greg Oden started an NBA game today for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009, a span of 1,541 days... Kevin Durant, drafted a spot behind Oden, has 9,998 points since then and has scored 40 points 30 times since then, both most in the NBA... Doug McDermott was a senior in high school... He's now 11th in scoring in Division I men's basketball history.

    ESPN Stats & Information