Nets-Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls have been rolling despite a rash of injuries to key players. They may be without their two best ones when they host the New Jersey Nets on Monday night.

Derrick Rose could miss his fifth straight game while Luol Deng will likely sit out as the Bulls look to improve the best record in the NBA with their fourth win in a row.

Rose said Monday that his sprained left big toe ''is never going to be right this year,'' though he ''felt decent'' during the shootaround. That's apparently not the case with Deng, whom coach Tom Thibodeau said probably wouldn't play against the Nets due to a sprained left wrist.

Key absences have hardly affected Chicago this season, though. Despite Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and John Lucas III being sidelined Saturday, the Bulls (15-3) defeated Charlotte 95-89.

Carlos Boozer scored a game-high 23 points and Deng added 22 for Chicago, which also got a season-high 20 from Richard Hamilton.

''We'd like to be healthy, but we do a good job of stepping up when we have guys out,'' Boozer said. ''We have a lot of guys that can play on this team. I think we're the deepest team in the league.''

The Bulls have won three straight after getting blown out 102-86 by Memphis on Jan. 16, the first game Rose missed.

Thibodeau said he thinks Noah will play Monday, while Lucas will be a game-time decision. He ruled out Gibson, who has a sprained ankle.

''We have the right guys,'' Thibodeau said. ''No matter who is out, we have enough to win with. These guys play for each other and they play to win.''

Rose last played Jan. 14, when he scored 18 points and had 11 assists in a 77-64 win over Toronto.

New Jersey (5-12) is also coming off a victory over the Bobcats, 97-87 on Sunday. Deron Williams narrowly missed his first career triple-double, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists as the Nets won for the second time in three games.

''It was close. I've been close a number of times,'' Williams said. ''It will happen someday.''

Williams lifted a team that shot a season low-tying 31.0 percent in an 84-74 loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday.

MarShon Brooks scored 20 points and Anthony Morrow added 19 off the bench against Charlotte.

''We played pretty good offense overall. The goal was to try and get to 100 points,'' coach Avery Johnson said. ''We figured that (the) first team to 100 would really have a chance to win."

With Brook Lopez's injury leaving a hole inside, the Nets have attempted a league-high 440 3-pointers. They've hit only 10 of 50 attempts over their last two games, however.

Brooks attributed his strong game Sunday to him being more aggressive from inside the arc.

''I've been shooting a lot of 3s. I've been hitting a lot of them so I find myself settling for that shot," Brooks said. "I need to be a little bit more efficient.''

Williams missed the most recent meeting with the Bulls on April 13, won 97-82 by Chicago at home despite Rose shooting 5 of 13 and recording one assist.

New Jersey has won three road games this season after winning five in 2010-11.

What to Read Next