NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, February 23rd
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Bulls (29-25) at Miami Heat (39-14), 3:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James returned home from a successful road trip
with a broken nose and will be a game-time decision for Sunday's matchup with
the Chicago Bulls.
The Miami Heat star suffered the break with less than six minutes remaining in
Thursday's 103-81 victory at Oklahoma City. James was bloodied by a blow from
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and passed the concussion tests. He finished with
33 points on 15-of-22 shooting and is averaging 31.1 ppg in the last nine.
"He goes up and gets hit in the face and then goes back up and finishes. He's
the biggest, strongest athlete in the league," Heat center Chris Bosh said.
James has scored 30 or more points in four straight games. He said he feels
better since the injury occurred, but is experiencing pain and trouble
breathing at times. James said he won't rush coming back to the floor.
"I am an Erik Spoelstra game-time decision," James said with a chuckle after
Saturday's practice. "We'll see. It's a 3:30 game."
James wore a protective mask years ago when he suffered a fractured cheek bone
as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is currently wearing a nose splint
and may have to wear a mask when he returns.
Bosh and Dwyane Wade both scored 24 points against OKC and Wade handed out 10
assists to go along with seven rebounds and three steals for the Heat, who
forced nine turnovers in the first quarter and 20 on the night.
"I just felt good tonight and was able to get to the places I wanted to," Wade
said. "I was reading the defense pretty good. I wanted to mix it up, be
Miami stormed out to a 34-17 lead after the opening frame and later used a
16-4 run to grab a 70-51 advantage midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma
City shot just 37.8 percent for the game and was led by NBA leading scorer
Kevin Durant, who had 28 points on 10-of-22 shooting.
The Heat went 5-1 on the trip and have won 12 of their last 15 games. They
will open a four-game homestand Sunday versus Chicago, New York, Orlando and
Charlotte, and are 20-4 in South Beach. Miami has a 12-2 home record against
teams from the East and is second in the conference behind Indiana.
Miami is trying to become just the second team in the East with 40 wins. The
conference-leading Pacers (42-13) were the first to reach that mark.
Holding opponents under 100 points has happened often to the Heat, who are
29-2 when that occurs this season.
Spoelstra is one win shy of 300 in his career
Meanwhile, the Bulls will put their five-game winning streak to the test when
they open a quick road trip down south. They will also visit Atlanta and have
a 13-15 road mark this season.
Chicago resumed its winning ways and prevailed for the sixth time in seven
tries with Friday's 117-89 home demolition of the Denver Nuggets, as D.J.
Augustin had 22 points, eight assists and two steals to lead the charge. Tony
Snell had a career-best 20 points, Taj Gibson ended with 15 and 10 rebounds,
and Joakim Noah tallied 14 points, 11 boards, five assists and three blocks.
"All the hard work, everything I learned, I used it tonight," Snell said of
his career high point total.
Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich scored 10 points apiece for the
Bulls, who shot 50 percent from the floor and made 10-of-17 3-pointers. The
Bulls are fourth in the East standings.
Bulls guard Jimmy Butler suffered a rib injury versus the Nuggets and is
doubtful against the Heat. Butler had eight points Friday night.
Even though the Bulls are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA with
92.8 ppg, they are giving up just 92.3 ppg. Miami is scoring 104.4 points per
game and has split the first two meetings with Chicago this season. Chicago
has lost two straight, 10 of 13 and 21 of its last 26 games in Miami.
The Bulls and Heat will meet again March 9 at the United Center.
02/23 10:25:21 ET