Bulls visit Brooklyn in Eastern showdown
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls aim to continue their ascent in the Eastern Conference when they hit the road for two games, starting with Monday's matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Bulls will also make a stop in Detroit and recorded a convincing 109-90 victory over the New York Knicks Sunday at the United Center. Joakim Noah registered his second triple-double of the season and fifth of his career with 13 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds.
Noah's 14 assists were a franchise-best for a center and the most by a player in that position since Sam Lacey in 1978-79. His other triple-double this season came on Feb. 11 against Atlanta, as he registered 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
Noah was one of seven players to score in double figures, as D.J. Augustin led the way with 23 points, Jimmy Butler added 19 and Taj Gibson scored 13 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer (14), Kirk Hinrich (11) and Mike Dunleavy (10) rounded out the double-digit scorers.
Gibson has been impressed with Noah's efforts lately.
"What can you say? He is playing MVP basketball," Gibson remarked. "He is doing everything in all facets of the game."
In his last 12 games, Noah is posting an average of 13.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.8 blocks. Noah has helped the Bulls to a 21-8 since Jan. 1 and the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Toronto has an identical 33-26 record.
"It's exciting coming from where we came from," Noah said.
Noah rolled his ankle versus the Knicks, but is expected to play Monday.
"Feels like (crap) now," Noah said. "I'm going to play in Brooklyn. I love playing at home. Playing the Knicks, playing Brooklyn. I don't take those things lightly and for granted."
The Bulls, winners in four straight and nine of 10 games, are 15-16 on the road and have won four of their last five games away from the Windy City.
Brooklyn is back from its lengthy and successful seven-game road trip (4-3) and closed the jaunt with Saturday's 107-98 besting of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Marcus Thornton scored 25 points off the bench and Andray Blatche ended with 19 points and 13 rebounds for Brooklyn, which is 8-4 in its last 12 games and sixth in the East standings -- two behind Washington and two ahead of Charlotte. Paul Pierce had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
"Coming down the stretch we played through Paul (Pierce)," Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd said. "We trust making the pass or making the play for one another and that's what helped us win the game tonight."
Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively for the Nets. Williams sustained a wrist injury, but is expected to play versus the Bulls. He scored two of his 15 points in the final 24 minutes.
Williams' balky wrist opened the door for Thornton, who was acquired from Sacramento before the trade deadline.
"I wanted to find out down the stretch defensively can guys count on him, and then offensively can we count on him," Kidd said of Thornton. "We know he can shoot the ball and put the ball in the basket. But coming down the stretch, can he make plays, and this was a great opportunity to see that after a long trip. It gives guys like D-Will and Joe (Johnson) a chance to breathe and not bring those guys back to finish the game."
The Nets will also welcome Memphis to Barclays Center on their quick homestand and have won four in row as the host. They have a 16-11 home record this season. In injury news for Brooklyn, veteran center/forward Kevin Garnett is questionable for Monday with a back issue.
Garnett did not play against the Bucks.
Nets big man Jason Collins will make his home debut and made history 1:32 into the second quarter of a Feb. 23 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Collins became the first openly gay active player in one of North America's four major team sports after signing a 10-day contract with the team.
Collins had two rebounds and no points in 10:37.
"It will be a lot of fun," Collins said of playing in Brooklyn. "I have some family and friends coming to the game. I'm looking forward to seeing them and obviously the first home game."
He played several games in the nearby Garden State as a member of the New Jersey Nets.
Brooklyn hopes to stop a four-game slide to the Bulls and is 0-2 in this season's series. Chicago has defeated the Nets 10 times in the previous 13 meetings, but sports a 5-17 mark in the last 22 games at the Nets.
03/03 09:40:04 ET