Pistons-Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls have performed admirably in the first half of this season without star point guard Derrick Rose. A second straight absence from leading scorer Luol Deng also didn't affect the team too much last time out.

With Deng's status unknown, the Bulls will seek their fifth win in six games Wednesday night by adding to their dominance of the Detroit Pistons.

Heading into the midway point of this season, Chicago (24-16) is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference despite not having Rose on the floor due to a torn ACL. The 2010-11 MVP took the "next step" in his rehab Tuesday by taking contact in scrimmages against teammates.

"We want him to concentrate on the rehab and the team to continue to concentrate on improvement and our next opponent," Thibodeau said.

Deng, meanwhile, has missed the past two games with a strained right hamstring but the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter Monday for a 95-83 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Kirk Hinrich had a season-best 22 points to help Chicago bounce back from an overtime defeat to Memphis in Saturday's opener of a four-game homestand.

Joakim Noah had 13 rebounds, a season-high six blocks and six points after being benched for the final 22:53 in the loss to the Grizzlies. Jimmy Butler had 10 points, eight rebounds and helped hold Kobe Bryant to 7-of-22 shooting in his second straight start in place of Deng.

"It's a great win but it's on to the next one," Butler said. "We never want to lose any games, two games in a row or any game at home."

The Bulls haven't lost to the Pistons (16-25) since Dec. 23, 2008, having won the past 16 matchups. That's tied for the league's second-longest active streak against one opponent.

Chicago has also won 12 consecutive regular-season matchups at the United Center since a 95-87 loss on Feb. 24, 2006. The Bulls lost twice at home to Detroit during a six-game defeat in the 2007 East semifinals.

Chicago, though, wasn't exactly dominant in the early going in the only matchup with the Pistons this season on Dec. 7. The Bulls trailed by as many as 17 in the second quarter but rallied for a 108-104 road victory with Noah providing career highs of 30 points and 23 rebounds.

Carlos Boozer contributed 24 points and heads into this game averaging 22.0 during Chicago's 8-3 start to the new year. He also has 11 of his conference-best 23 double-doubles over his last 13 contests.

In his three seasons with the Bulls, Boozer is averaging 21.8 points on 62.3 percent shooting in eight games against the Pistons, his best scoring performance versus any team in that span.

Detroit enters this matchup having won back-to-back games after dropping three of four. Brandon Knight led six players in double figures with 18 points in Tuesday's 105-90 victory in Orlando, and Rodney Stuckey had 14 after being held to single digits in four straight contests.

"We know that if we play with a lot of fight and a lot of effort every game, we'll get some great wins," said rookie Andre Drummond, who is averaging 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last three games. "We weren't trying to do anything fancy. We were just finishing plays.''

Stuckey had a season-high 24 points in the loss to Chicago in December, and 32 in a 100-94 overtime defeat to the Bulls in Detroit on April 15.

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