CHICAGO — Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler understand it.
The real victory for the Chicago Bulls will come when they’re knocking the Miami Heat out of the playoffs, not during the regular season – no matter how charged the atmosphere is.
Even so, they’ll take this.
Noah had 20 points and 12 rebounds, D.J. Augustin scored 22 and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 95-88 in overtime Sunday after Butler blocked LeBron James at the end of regulation.
“I want what they have – a championship,” Noah said. “One day, we’re going to have to get through those guys.”
The Heat have owned them when it counts in recent seasons.
With a healthy Derrick Rose and the No. 1 seed in 2011, Chicago fell to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. Last year, with Rose out, the Heat knocked off the Bulls in the second round on the way to their second straight championship.
“It’s still a good win,” Butler said. “It gives us confidence we can beat them. But … in the playoffs, like Thibs said, we can’t go around them; you’re going to have to go through them.”
Dwyane Wade scored 25 for Miami, but with James struggling again, the Heat dropped their third straight to match their longest losing streak of the season.
James scored 17 points on 8 of 23 shooting and couldn’t come through after Miami blew a 12-point lead down the stretch. With a chance to win it at the end of regulation, he got stripped by Butler on a layup attempt.
JAMES’ TRIP: LeBron James simply wanted to support his friend, so the Miami Heat star found himself back in his old stomping grounds.
James couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show his support for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He was back in Cleveland as the Cavaliers retired his longtime teammate’s jersey Saturday.
“It was special, a special time for Z, and I’m happy I was able to be a part of it,” the four-time MVP said.
NETS: Paul Pierce left the game against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night after suffering a sore right shoulder in the opening minutes and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Pierce was guarding Sacramento’s Jason Thompson, who was backing him into the paint and then quickly spun around Pierce for a lay-up with 10:55 left in the opening quarter.
RAPTORS: Forward Patrick Patterson will miss the next seven to 10 days with a sprained right elbow.
The team made the announcement before Sunday’s game at Minnesota. Coach Dwane Casey says Patterson has been bothered by the injury for some time, but aggravated it on Friday in a win over Sacramento.
Patterson is averaging 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 23.4 minutes per game.