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Heat hardly need LeBron to pull away from Bulls

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The Miami Heat found themselves in a rare position on Feb. 23. Just when the Heat were rounding back into championship form with LeBron James, they had to face the hot Chicago Bulls without him. James' broken nose in Oklahoma City was finally too much for him to overcome, yet the Bulls weren't as the Heat cruised in the second half for a 93-79 win.

Miami didn't have its MVP leader in James, but Chicago hasn't had former MVP Derrick Rose in months, which made them somewhat even. Nevertheless, the Bulls came into Miami with a five-game winning streak, even without Rose, although a Heat team without James proved to be superior.

The Miami "Big Two" and a tough defense took Chicago down, in spite of how it wasn't easy for the first two-and-a-half quarters. Chris Bosh had a rare game where he led the Heat in scoring with 28 points, thanks in part to tying his career high with four three-pointers. Dwayne Wade -- whose absence the Heat are more used to than James -- added 23 points of his own.

Scoring became tough for the Bulls as a whole, as they only shot 36 percent from the floor. But it was a 16-2 run from Miami that put Chicago away halfway through the third quarter. Unlike in their blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 20, the Heat didn't lose any more superstars at the end of a lopsided victory.

While the Bulls are now one of four winning teams in the Eastern Conference, they couldn't even solve the Heat with a winning streak and without James. Of course, since Miami knows that James will be back before too long -- unlike Rose -- it may have been easier to endure his absence.

The schedule is giving James and Miami another break, since their next game against the New York Knicks isn't until Feb. 27. It should give James more than enough time to find a facial mask and plan out a big return, even if the Heat don't need him to beat everyone.

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