Chicago (7-6) at Boston (6-8)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Dec 2, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Maybe the Boston Celtics have found a new starting center. At least Kendrick Perkins hopes so.

Perkins, coming off the best performance of his career, tries to help the Celtics win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they meet the Chicago Bulls.

Drafted in the first round out of high school by Memphis in 2003, Perkins played very limited minutes in his first two seasons in the league. It was the same story for the first 11 games of this season as he scored a total of four points.

Perkins, though, replaced Mark Blount in the starting lineup the last three games. He responded with a combined 11 points and 11 rebounds in the first two before making a huge contribution on Wednesday against Philadelphia, setting career highs with 12 points, 19 rebounds and four assists in a 110-103 victory.

“I’ve been playing uptight and the coaches have told me to relax,” Perkins said. “I knew things were going my way when I hit a jump hook in the first half. I haven’t done that since high school.”

Perkins had eight offensive rebounds and added two blocks in 28 minutes before fouling out.

“I think he’s a hell of a rebounder and when you look at the minutes he played, it’s even more impressive,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

Paul Pierce had 32 points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday for the Celtics, who now look to win consecutive games for the first time since a four-game run in April.

For the third straight year, Boston is looking to bounce back from a mediocre November.

Combining the last two seasons, the Celtics improved their winning percentage from .370 in November to .515 in December, increasing their scoring average by 8.9 points per game.

The Bulls are coming off their strongest November in the post-Michael Jordan era. Their seven wins equal the team’s combined November total over the past three seasons.

Staying above .500 through December won’t be easy, with Chicago facing teams that are currently .500 or better in 10 of its next 16 games.

The Bulls, though, are coming off a 109-101 loss on Wednesday to the New York Knicks that ended a four-game winning streak.

Chicago committed 19 turnovers and 40 personal fouls, which allowed the Knicks to score 47 points from the line.

Despite the defeat, point guard Kirk Hinrich had another solid game with 16 points.

He’s a big reason for the Bulls’ strong start, ranking second on the team with 14.4 points a game and among the league leaders with 7.2 assists per contest. Hinrich has scored in double figures in all but three games, and has double-doubles in two of the last four contests.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 1): Bulls - 4th place (tied), 4 GB, Central Division. Celtics - 3rd place, 1 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Bulls - F Andres Nocioni, F Mike Sweetney, C Tyson Chandler, G Chris Duhon, G Hinrich. Celtics - F Pierce, F Raef LaFrentz, C Perkins, G Ricky Davis, G Delonte West.

TEAM LEADERS: Bulls - Ben Gordon, 14.5 ppg; Chandler, 9.3 rpg; Hinrich, 7.2 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 25.8 ppg and 8.9 rpg; Davis, 5.7 apg.

2004-05 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: March 25; Bulls, 94-86. At Boston, Chandler had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who outscored the Celtics 28-14 in the fourth quarter.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bulls - 3-5 on the road; Celtics - 6-4 at home.

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