Bulls-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

After struggling for much of this month, the Chicago Bulls managed to overcome their injuries last time out. A matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves could help keep them heading in the right direction.

The short-handed Bulls will try to earn back-to-back wins for only the second time since the beginning of February on Sunday night by adding to their recent dominance over the Timberwolves.

Still awaiting Derrick Rose's return, Chicago was also without Joakim Noah on Saturday against Central Division-leading Indiana. The Bulls still rallied from a 10-point deficit for an 87-84 win.

Luol Deng had a team-best 20 points, and veteran center Nazr Mohammed was one of four Chicago players to score in double figures in his second start this season.

"Everybody stepped up," forward Taj Gibson said. "We don't have time to worry about injuries. Whoever is out there has to do the job."

Noah is also expected to sit out Sunday's visit to Minnesota because of chronic plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and Kirk Hinrich's status is unclear after he bruised his thigh in Saturday's victory. Chicago has also been playing without veteran guard Richard Hamilton (back spasms).

"That is the way we have to play; we have to do it collectively," said coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team has only won three of its last nine games.

The Bulls (37-31) are 9-14 since the beginning of last month, recording their only consecutive wins over that span on Feb. 28 and March 2. They've dropped five of six on the road.

"We kind of lost momentum in the second half of this season. We're just trying to get guys healthy and keep playing the right way," Gibson said. "We did that (against Indiana), but we have another tough test (Sunday). We've got to keep doing our thing."

The Bulls will try for their seventh win in a row over Minnesota (24-43). Chicago won 87-80 at home in the most recent meeting between the teams Nov. 10, with Nate Robinson's 18 points off the bench leading five players in double figures.

The Timberwolves, 8-28 in their last 36 games, will once again face the Bulls without star forward Kevin Love. Minnesota, though, is coming off a 117-86 win at Phoenix on Friday.

In his fourth game back from a strained calf, Andrei Kirilenko led seven Minnesota players in double figures with 20 points. Chase Budinger had 11 in his second game since a four-month absence with a knee injury.

"Whatever your record is, you want to build on something going down the stretch. We got this road win. Now we head home," coach Rick Adelman said. "We'll play a lot of good teams at home (in upcoming games). We've got some people back and we want to try to build off this."

With a healthier rotation, Minnesota will try to build on its first back-to-back home victories since a five-game run at the Target Center from Nov. 30-Dec. 20. The Bulls, however, have won three straight in Minneapolis, including a 111-100 victory last season.

The Bulls got 31 points and 11 assists from Rose in that win while Deng had 21 points and 11 rebounds.