Chicago (26-19) has won six of its last eight games, a stretch that includes home victories over Dallas, San Antonio and defending champion Miami. The Bulls, though, are headed west, and will face division leaders Utah and Phoenix in their second seven-game trip of the season. Chicago went 1-6 on the first trip and is 6-13 on the road this season.
“We now have two quality wins against two very good teams that will likely be playing late in the year,” guard Ben Gordon said, referring to Bulls’ back-to-back wins over the Mavericks and Heat on Thursday and Saturday. “Hopefully we can take some of the momentum that we’ve gained into this road trip.”
Gordon had 34 points and seven assists in the Bulls’ 100-97 victory over Miami. It was his third 30-point game of the week, helping him earn Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.
Ben Wallace added 15 rebounds and four blocks, but left the game after spraining his knee in the fourth quarter. An MRI on Sunday revealed no structural damage, and he’s listed as day-to-day.
“We’re very happy that Ben’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious,” Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi said in a statement. “We hope to know more, in regard to his return to the court, in the next couple of days.”
The Bulls have lost five of their last seven on the road, and will be visiting a Los Angeles team that has won seven of its last nine home games.
The Clippers (22-22) are 16-8 at Staples Center, where they’re averaging 106.2 points per game over their last five contests. They’ve won five of their last six overall to climb back to .500 for the first time since they were 10-10 in December.
Los Angeles is coming off a 98-76 win over Seattle in which it led by as many as 37 in the third quarter. Sam Cassell scored 21 points in just 20 minutes, making five of the Clippers’ season-high 11 3-pointers.
“I just made some shots tonight. Shots I wanted to take yesterday I didn’t take them, but I took them tonight and made them,” Cassell said. “We had to come out aggressive.”
Elton Brand added 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
The Clippers, who have lost two games in which they had double-digit leads this month, also played some of their best defense of the season. They held the Sonics to a season-low 32.9 percent shooting and allowed a season low in points for a Clippers opponent.
“We’ve had some big leads and lost them. To really close a team out like this was big for us,” Brand said.
This is the first meeting between the Bulls and Clippers this season. Los Angeles has won 10 of the last 12 matchups, including five of the previous six meetings in Los Angeles. The teams close out the season series in Chicago on March 20.