NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 15th (All times Eastern)
Brooklyn Nets (13-9) at Chicago Bulls (12-9), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Bulls look to continue a strong run on Saturday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.
The Bulls have won six of their last eight, including a road victory Wednesday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers. Luol Deng led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Joakim Noah contributed a team-high 21 points.
Those two lead the NBA in minutes played. With a long way to go, but no real relief in sight for the two, they could become the first teammates since the 1996-97 season when the Charlotte Hornets' Anthony Mason and Glen Rice led the league.
The win on Wednesday came after a late-starting game in Chicago on Tuesday, a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
This recent run is all the more special based on how depleted the Bulls' backcourt is. Former MVP Derrick Rose hasn't played a minute and his return is unknown, but Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton have both sat out recently with various injuries.
"The thing for us is we want to continue to improve," said head coach Tom Thibodeau. "The big challenge in the NBA is whatever's in front of you, you have to attack it. Sometimes, the schedule is in your favor. Sometimes, it's not."
The Nets will have some tired legs when they jump it up in the Windy City. On Friday night, Brooklyn needed two overtimes and a long jumper from Joe Johnson to knock off the Detroit Pistons, 107-105.
Johnson's jumper came from just inside the 3-point arc as time expired in the second extra session.
"It's a feeling that when I shot it, when it left my hand, I knew it was going in," said Johnson, who led the Nets with 28 points. "That's why I kind of faded back on my trot, kind of swagged out. I was just glad we were able to get outta here with a win."
Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Deron Williams chipped in 17.
The victory was the second in a row for the Nets, who dropped five in a row before this winning streak. It might have had a lot to do with the return of center Brook Lopez, the team's leading center, who missed seven games with a sprained right foot. He had nine points in 24 minutes on Friday.
Hopefully, some of the Nets got some sleep on the plane because heavy minutes were logged. Johnson went almost 52 minutes and Wallace exceeded 50. Williams played over 43.
The Bulls have won four of the last five against the Nets, but the loss was the most recent between the two. On Feb. 18, 2012, the Nets bested the Bulls in Chicago, 97-85.
12/15 10:32:36 ET