MIAMI — Joakim Noah didn't break out his "Hollywood as hell" depiction of the Heat. Derrick Rose didn't play.
But make no mistake: The rivalry remains. And it remains very edgy. Noah's horse-collar flagrant foul on LeBron James early in the fourth quarter, which the Bulls vehemently disputed, underscored that.
The rivalry might not lead to a reprise of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, but it did provide intrigue — and mutual respect — Friday night at American Airlines Arena.
And though the Bulls like to follow coach Tom Thibodeau's cue and claim every game's the same, a 96-89 victory without Rose lingers a bit longer than usual. The Bulls stayed overnight with a Saturday morning charter flight back to Chicago scheduled.