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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, April 5th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Suns (37-39) at Chicago Bulls (56-20), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Chicago renews its push for the top spot in the Eastern Conference tonight when the Bulls host the Phoenix Suns at the United Center.

The Central Division champion Bulls lead Miami by 2 1/2 games and Boston by three for the No. 1 seed in the East with six games left in their season after a 113-106 win over the Toronto Raptors in the opener of a three-game homestand Saturday.

MVP candidate Derrick Rose scored 36 points and dished out 10 assists in that one as the Bulls won their third straight and for the seventh time in eight games overall.

Carlos Boozer tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who were without forward Joakim Noah for a third straight game. He's been sidelined due to a sprained right ankle. Luol Deng added 17 points.

"He was amazing on both sides," Boozer said of Rose. "Defensively, he got big plays, big blocks. I don't think I've seen him that active on both sides. It was amazing to see and he did a good job at leading us tonight."

Noah, averaging a team-high 11.0 rebounds per game along with 12.1 points, could return to the lineup tonight.

"He's almost there," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He's good straight ahead and not quite there laterally yet."

Chicago, which is a gaudy 33-5 at the Madhouse on Madison this season, will close its residency against Boston on Thursday.

A year after reaching the Western Conference finals, Phoenix is out of the playoff picture after losing to San Antonio in the Alamo City on Sunday.

George Hill led the way with 29 points off the bench in that one, as the Spurs snapped a six-game slide with an easy 114-97 win. The outcome, coupled with Dallas' loss to Portland, clinched the Southwest Division title for San Antonio.

Aaron Brooks and Channing Frye each had 14 points for Phoenix, which was officially eliminated from postseason contention when New Orleans bested Indiana later Sunday. Jared Dudley ended with 12 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.

"They came out and beat our behinds," Frye said of the Spurs.

Phoenix star guard Steve Nash missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms and remains questionable for tonight.

The Bulls have taken four of their past five meetings with the Suns, including a 123-115 double-overtime thriller in the desert back in November.

04/05 10:47:48 ET


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