LeBron and Wade looking forward to Bulls re-match


Feb 24

When the Bulls and Heat met at the United Center on Jan. 15, the teams were without two of their stars in LeBron James (sprained ankle) and Joakim Noah (thumb).

That simply set the stage for the game’s two Chicago natives, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, to engage in a memorable shootout that saw Rose’s Bulls edge out Wade’s Heat, 99-96. While Rose led all scorers with 34 points and Wade recorded 33, it was Chicago’s Kyle Korver who retrieved a loose ball and hit a three-pointer with 25 seconds left to seal the victory.

While Noah will play in just his second game back from injury after missing 30 games, LeBron James is fully healthy and says he is up to the task of facing the Bulls in Chicago.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” said James prior to Thursday’s game. “They’re a really, really good team. We’re two of the best defensive teams the league has to offer. So it could be an offensive struggle. Both teams are looking forward to this matchup.”

James also shared his thoughts on Rose being in the MVP discussion, this coming after two of his teammates—Chris Bosh and Juwan Howard—went on record to say Rose would get their votes over James for the award, if they had one.

“The award isn’t named after myself,” retorted James, who has claimed back-to-back MVP honors. “There are guys who have come before me and guys who will come after me and win that award.”

But James did acknowledge he’s taken note of Rose’s success and that he’s a very viable candidate to win it in only his third professional season.

“Like I always keep saying, with team success comes individual accolades,” said James. “D-Rose is having an unbelievable season. He’s doing everything and more to help this team be a contender. There is no way you can mention the MVP race without mentioning his name.”

As for Wade, James’ teammate who did not offer his support for Rose to claim MVP honors, he anticipates that the Heat will be ready to take their best shot at evening the season series with Chicago before a national audience on TNT.

“They got the first one in their building,” said Wade following Miami’s shootaround. “Tonight, I’m sure they’re going to come out very aggressive after losing [Wednesday in Toronto]. But we’re going to come out aggressive as well. It’s going to be a great Eastern Conference battle, two teams in the top tier of the league defensively. We’re looking each other in the face in a way.”

Wade also acknowledged the shift of power to the Eastern Conference, citing the recent additions of Amar’e Stoudemire last summer, and this week, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams. But he welcomes the challenge, whether it involves the postseason or claiming a spot on the All-Star team.

“You don’t play this game for it to be easy,” said Wade. “You play for it to be competitive. When you win, it’s hard. Those are the times you look back and understand all of the work you put in and that all the dedication to this game was worth it.”

Audio—Heat forward LeBron James’ pregame comments (02.24.11):

Audio—Heat guard Dwyane Wade following his team’s shootaround at the United Center (02.24.11):

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (02.24.11):

Audio—Bulls GM Gar Forman on the trading deadline (02.24.11):

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