On a night that followed a busy afternoon—the NBA trade deadline, as well as controversially-viewed comments made by injured point guard Derrick Rose’s older brother—the Bulls (31-23) picked the wrong time to validate the theory that they’re merely an average team without the former league MVP and homegrown superstar.

Hosting the defending-champion Heat (38-14), after a competitive first quarter, the Bulls simply didn’t have enough to contend with reigning league MVP LeBron James (26 points on 11-for-15 shooting, 12 rebounds, seven assists) or his supporting cast and fell, 86-67, Thursday night at the United Center.

Like most contests between the two rivals, the contest started out as a nip-and-tuck affair, with James putting his stamp on the game from the outset.

The hosts took their usual collective approach, as contributions from the energetic duo of backup point guard Nate Robinson (14 points)—again filling in for injured starter Kirk Hinrich, who re-aggravated his right-elbow injury—and All-Star center Joakim Noah (11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) leading the way in the early going, sparking a 9-1 run in the middle portion of the opening period.

But the tables quickly turned, as the Heat briefly regained control of the contest, as the scoring of oft-overlooked Miami point guard Mario Chalmers propelled the visitors.