Bulls play host to Blazers
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls will try to put a bow on a perfect homestand Friday night when they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to the United Center.
The Bulls have knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers during this residency. They are tied for third in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors.
On Monday, the Bulls bested their Central Division rivals, and Eastern Conference leaders, the Indiana Pacers, 89-77.
Taj Gibson scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting off the bench. Kirk Hinrich checked in with 18 points, Mike Dunleavy netted 13 and Joakim Noah again filled the box score with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks despite dealing with foul trouble. It was the 10th time in the last 11 games Noah led the Bulls in assists.
After a disastrous start to the season, including the loss of former MVP Derrick Rose for the second consecutive season, the Bulls have a conference- best 28 wins since the start of the calendar year. Chicago is on the verge of clinching a playoff berth.
"It feels good, but we've still got a long ways to go," Gibson told the team's website. "We're always real humble about everything we do because there's always another step and somebody can smack you right back into reality."
The Blazers salvaged a win last time out on this five-game road trip, which ends on Friday night.
After starting 0-3 with losses to the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, Portland welcomed an old friend back Thursday in a 100-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a seven-game hiatus and looked like he didn't miss a beat. Aldridge, who was bothered by lingering back issues, scored 25 points with 16 rebounds.
"(Aldridge) looked very good," said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We planned on playing him 32 minutes. I thought he made the most of the minutes he had. Obviously he rebounded the ball extremely well. I liked the way he took the ball to the paint. He competed inside."
Damian Lillard contributed 21 points and Nicolas Batum netted 12 with seven rebounds for the Blazers. Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews both scored 11, while Thomas Robinson chipped in 10 off the bench.
The Blazers remain in fifth place in the Western Conference, four games behind the Houston Rockets and just one game ahead of the Golden State Warriors.
The Blazers beat the Bulls in Portland on Nov. 22 and have taken five in a row in this series. Portland has won four of its last six appearances in the Windy City.
03/28 09:40:30 ET