Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 11:12 a.m.
After going 35-5 at the United Center, the Chicago Bulls have proven how dominant they can be at home.
With a chance to finish with the NBA's best record and potentially earn home-court advantage throughout the postseason, the Chicago Bulls play host to the New Jersey Nets in Wednesday night's season finale.
Chicago (61-20) recorded its season high-tying eighth consecutive win by defeating the Knicks 103-90 on Tuesday in New York. Combined with Western Conference-leading San Antonio losing 102-93 to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bulls and Spurs are tied for the best record in the league.
Since tiebreakers are all even, a random drawing would be held if the Bulls were to finish with an identical record as the Spurs. San Antonio closes its regular season at Phoenix later on Wednesday.
"That's something special. It's definitely something that we want, but we have to look at the bigger picture," Bulls forward Joakim Noah said. "For us it's all about improvement and just focusing on the next opponent and the results will take care of themselves."
Carlos Boozer scored 14 points on 5 of 19 shooting Tuesday, but recorded a season-best 22 rebounds while Luol Deng had 23 points and 10 boards.
After a 39-point effort in Sunday's 102-99 win at Orlando, Derrick Rose scored 26. The MVP favorite is shooting 63.9 percent over his last two games.
"Rose is amazing. His athletic ability is ridiculous. He's come farther, quicker, faster than anyone expected," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's playing at a level that not many people play."
Chicago, which hasn't won nine straight since March 19-April 2, 2005, came under some scrutiny after coach Tom Thibodeau decided to stick with his regular rotation despite locking up the East's top spot Friday.
That decision may come back to haunt Thibodeau, as reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer left Tuesday with a sprained left thumb. His status is unknown.
The Bulls have limited teams to 89.2 points during a 20-2 stretch. New Jersey is 3-30 when scoring 90 points or less.
The Nets (24-57) suffered their fourth straight loss and 14th in 16 games with a 105-103 defeat to Charlotte on Monday.
Sasha Vujacic, averaging 16.8 points over his last five games, hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds remaining but D.J. Augustin's jumper with 1.1 seconds to go gave the Bobcats the win.
"We had a great effort, " said Brook Lopez, who scored 31 points. "It's a shame we couldn't get one more here, because the fans showed us a lot of support this season and tonight. I just want to thank them for their support. It hasn't been easy. I thought we played the best we possibly could."
Lopez is averaging 32.4 points - 12.0 above his season mark - on 59.6 percent shooting over his last five games. The 7-footer, though, is averaging just 13.0 points on 27.3 percent shooting in his last two games in Chicago.
The Nets, who are allowing an average of 108.1 points on 51.8 percent shooting during a 1-10 stretch, have been outscored by an average of 10.7 points during a six-game road losing streak.
New Jersey has been outscored by 13.6 points per game during its last seven trips to Chicago, losing six.
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