The Bulls look to build on an impressive victory as they host the streaking Bobcats on Friday.
Chicago (47-32) is tied with Cleveland for the No. 2 seed in the East, but holds the tiebreaker between the teams. If the Bulls win out, they will relegate the Cavaliers to the No. 5 seed and a likely first-round series against defending champion Miami.
The Bulls and Cavaliers each have three games remaining. After Friday’s contest, Chicago closes out the season on the road at Washington and New Jersey.
Toronto is 1 1/2 games behind the two with four games left, giving the Raptors a chance at the second spot. However, the Bulls also own a tiebreaker against them.
“We can get the second seed and win 50 games,” Bulls guard Chris Duhon said. “That was our goal, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Bulls pounded the New York Knicks 98-69 on Tuesday for their eighth win in 10 games. Believing the Bulls were trying to run up the score in the final minute, several of the Knicks exchanged words with rookie forward Tyrus Thomas after the game, and Knicks center Jerome James had to be restrained from going after Thomas in the hallway.
Duhon said afterward that the Bulls were trying to reach 100 points so fans would receive a free Big Mac.
“We did well to put that game away early,” forward Luol Deng said. “It’s a good win. It’s important because we want to finish second. Now we just have to focus on our next opponent.”
Ben Gordon scored 23 points, and Deng added 15 for Chicago, which has won 30 games at home—its most since going 37-4 in 1997-98.
Now, the Bulls will be up against a Bobcats team that has won six of its last eight, including home-and-home sweeps of Washington and Miami. Charlotte (32-47) is coming off Tuesday’s 92-82 home win against the Heat.
Derek Anderson, who had 17 points off the bench, said the lottery-bound Bobcats would have made a tough playoff team.
“We would definitely beat somebody. We wouldn’t get swept,” he said. “We’re playing hard, we’re playing well together, we’re playing well on the road, at home, all of that.”
Gerald Wallace, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, had 24 points and 10 rebounds and is averaging 28.8 points over his last five games. However, he is day-to-day with pain in his knees and might not play against the Bulls.