Chicago (36-28) at Boston (18-43)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 32° F
  • Game info: 6:00 pm EDT Sun Mar 11, 2007
  • TV: WGN, FSNE
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The surging Chicago Bulls look for their seventh straight victory over the Boston Celtics when the teams begin a home-and-home series in Boston on Sunday.

The Bulls (36-28) haven’t lost to the Celtics (18-43) since a 101-97 defeat on Jan. 29, 2005. Chicago, which hosts Boston on Tuesday, was dominant in leading by as many as 30 points in a 100-82 victory on Dec. 4 in the only meeting this season.

Andres Nocioni scored 20 points to lead five Bulls in double figures in that contest. Nocioni has missed 15 of the last 16 games with plantar fasciitis and it is uncertain when he will return.

Chicago has won seven of 10 since the All-Star break and put together one of its best performances in that span Thursday with a 100-76 rout at Orlando. Ben Gordon scored 25 points and backcourt mate Kirk Hinrich had 17 as the Bulls bounced back from an embarrassing 103-70 loss at Miami the previous night.

“I think last night (in Miami) kind of woke us up,” Hinrich said. “We were frustrated and disappointed with the way we played. Obviously, we had a lot more energy and purpose this time.”

Gordon and Hinrich combined for just 25 points and went 2-for-9 from 3-point range against the Heat. On Thursday, that duo made 7-of-9 3-pointers for Chicago, which built a 20-point lead at halftime and never looked back.

“Those guys (Hinrich and Gordon) had it going,” Bulls forward Luol Deng said. “I think we could have anybody leading us any given night. When those guys have it going, we have to keep going to them.”

Despite the victory, the Bulls were concerned about the status of reserve forward Malik Allen. Allen was taken to a hospital after suffering from an irregular heartbeat during the game and wasn’t released until Friday morning.

The team said in a statement that Allen, who will not be with the team in Boston, is expected to make a full recovery.

Bulls center Ben Wallace will likely match up with a rising young power forward for the second straight game after Magic All-Star Dwight Howard had 17 points and 14 rebounds on Thursday.

Wallace’s assignment Sunday will be Al Jefferson, who is averaging 25.8 points and 15.3 rebounds while posting four straight double-doubles. Jefferson is averaging 21.3 points and 14.0 boards in 10 games since the All-Star break.

Jefferson’s improved play is one reason Boston has won five of its last six games. He had 31 points and 16 rebounds in a 118-103 victory over Seattle on Friday, and also helped limit the SuperSonics’ starting frontcourt of Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison to a combined nine second-half points.

“Everybody in this league can score,” Jefferson said. “Every team, every guy. So it’s not about who is going to go out there and score the most points— it’s about who’s going out there and getting the most stops. The more we got stops, the easier it was for us to score.”

The Celtics played without starting guard Delonte West and reserve forward Ryan Gomes. West sat out after suffering a concussion in Wednesday’s loss to Houston and Gomes was out with a left foot sprain.

Rookie Rajon Rondo replaced West in the lineup and scored 20 points.

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Sunday, Mar 11