Dwyane Wade admitted following the Miami Heat's last game that they just aren't at the same level as some of the NBA's elite.
However, Wade has made sure they've matched up pretty well against the Chicago Bulls over the last two seasons.
The Heat look for their sixth win in seven games against the Bulls when they visit Chicago on Saturday night, trying to avoid a fifth straight loss.
Miami has dropped six of seven overall, and is coming off back-to-back losses to the top two teams in the East, suffering a five-point loss at Boston on Wednesday before falling 102-86 at Cleveland on Thursday.
The Heat (24-26) have been held to 86 or fewer points in three of four games during the skid. Wade scored 24 points Thursday, but was held to six in the second half as the Cavaliers took control.
"This team is just better than us," Wade said. "You have to be realistic. I understand (Cleveland) has NBA championship aspirations. We don't have that. We're focusing on trying to get to the playoffs and this team is trying to get to the championship. It's totally different."
Wade is averaging 24.5 points in the last four games while committing 20 turnovers. In the previous five contests, he averaged 29.6 points while finishing with 11 turnovers.
The slump has dropped the Heat from fifth place in the Eastern Conference to a tie with the Bulls for seventh. This is Miami's longest losing streak since a seven-game slide March 26-April 6, 2008.
While Miami had trouble against two of the NBA's contenders, it played well against Chicago earlier this season. The Heat won 95-87 on Nov. 1, led by 25 points from Wade, who is averaging 31.0 points in his last six games against the Bulls (23-25).
Derrick Rose, the reigning rookie of the year averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game, scored eight on 4-of-15 shooting in that contest.
The Bulls come in having dropped three in a row. They lost 91-81 at Atlanta on Friday, missing all 10 3-point attempts - the first time they've gone without one since Dec. 30, 2006.
The Bulls, who led by six entering the fourth quarter, were missing center Joakim Noah (foot) and were outrebounded 44-40 while giving up 48 points in the paint. For the season, Chicago is among the top 10 in the NBA in defending the paint, allowing 39.6 points per game, and is first in rebounding with 45.5 per game.
Noah isn't expected to return until after the All-Star break because of plantar fasciitis. Brad Miller started in his place and had 10 points, all in the first half.
"We wasted, I thought, a pretty good effort,' said coach Vinny Del Negro. "Too many (Hawks) rebounds. Too many second shots. We hung in there. But in the fourth quarter they showed why they're one of the better teams."
Rose, who finished with 19 points, has failed to reach 20 points in three of the last four games after averaging 26.3 in the previous seven games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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