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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, December 3rd (All times eastern)

Chicago Bulls (9-7) at Boston Celtics (14-4), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Chicago Bulls were counting on the addition of Carlos Boozer to help turn them into a true Eastern Conference contender.

The early returns weren't positive during Boozer's Chicago debut earlier in the week and the Bulls hope to rebound in Boston tonight when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics.

Orlando's Jameer Nelson scored a game-high 24 points and handed out nine assists, while Vince Carter provided 22 points and six rebounds as the Magic spoiled the season debut of Boozer in a 107-78 demolition of Chicago at the United Center on Wednesday.

Joakim Noah scored 16 points and Derrick Rose provided 15 in defeat for the Bulls, who returned home after a 4-3 road trip. Boozer scored five points and grabbed two rebounds in just under 22 minutes.

"I felt like my legs were good and my wind was good," Boozer said in analyzing his outing. "But, I just didn't do too many good things out there. I didn't get a lot of rebounds and didn't play good enough defense."

The Celtics, meanwhile, continued to roll on Wednesday, improving to a rock- solid 8-1 at TD Garden when Ray Allen helped fend off a furious Portland rally in the final minutes, and Paul Pierce recorded one of the best shooting nights of his career in a 99-95 Boston victory over the struggling Blazers.

Allen's three-pointer with 10.7 seconds left stopped a 15-0 Portland run in the final five minutes that brought the Trail Blazers back from a 16-point deficit. The shot put the Celtics back up by four, which provided enough of a margin for the home team to hang on.

Pierce made 9-of-11 shots for 28 points to help the Celtics grab their fifth straight win. He shot 81.8 percent from the field, his fourth-highest total for a single game with a minimum of 10 field goals attempted.

"I thought I did a good job of mixing it up, going inside and getting a rhythm. Going outside, taking the shots that were there," Pierce said. "I felt like I had fresh legs since I was in foul trouble last night. I just played within the flow."

Kevin Garnett added 17 points, while Glen Davis and Shaquille O'Neal provided 16 and 14 points, respectively, in Boston's seventh consecutive home win over Portland.

The Celtics snapped a two-game regular season skid to Chicago with a 110-105 overtime win in Beantown back on Nov. 5, a game that marked the return of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to Boston. Thibodeau took over the Bulls this summer after spending the previous three years as the lead assistant to Boston coach Doc Rivers.

12/03 10:59:54 ET

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