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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 17th (All times eastern)

San Antonio Spurs (46-9) at Chicago Bulls (37-16), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A battle of division leaders is on tap this evening in the Windy City, as the Chicago Bulls play host to the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs from the United Center.

The Central Division-leading Bulls have won three in a row and opened a short homestand with Tuesday's 106-94 victory versus the Charlotte Bobcats. Luol Deng led the way with 24 points and All-Star Derrick Rose provided 18 and 13 assists for the Bulls, who have won 12 of their last 15 games and are unbeaten in the previous six contests in the Second City.

Carlos Boozer had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson scored 15 and 11 points, respectively, in reserve roles. Korver nailed three of Chicago's seven three-pointers.

"We are a deep team." Deng said after helping Chicago improve to 24-4 at home this season. "That's what has been so great about this year. Our mindset every night is to win."

After hosting the Spurs, the Bulls will play six of seven games as the visitor. They just went 3-2 on a five-game road swing against teams from the Western Conference. Chicago is 16-7 against the West this season, including an 8-1 ledger at home.

San Antonio, which owns a comfortable lead atop the Southwest standings, will conclude yet another "Rodeo Road Trip" tonight.

The Spurs are 6-2 on the 17-day, nine-game excursion that covers 8,187 miles and have won 17 of their last 20 games, including Monday's 102-85 victory over New Jersey in which Manu Ginobili posted 22 points and Tim Duncan 15 with 11 rebounds. Tony Parker and George Hill scored 13 points apiece for San Antonio, owners of the NBA's best record at 46-9.

"We really played hard and rotated well...It was a complete second half," Ginobili said.

DeJuan Blair posted 10 points and 11 boards in a winning effort, his 10th double-double since New Year's Day. San Antonio is 21-7 away from the Alamo City this season and 50-22 on its "Rodeo Road Trip" over the previous eight seasons. The best record the Spurs have recorded on this particular trek, which began with a loss at Portland on Feb. 1, was an 8-1 mark in 2003.

The Spurs are averaging 103.5 points per game, the highest since posting 106.6 ppg in the 1994-95 campaign. After this weekend's All-Star festivities, they will begin a three-game residency versus Oklahoma City, New Jersey and Memphis in the Alamo City, where San Antonio has won 18 in a row and is 25-2.

San Antonio defeated Chicago, 103-94, on Nov. 17 this season at the AT&T Center, as Parker posted 21 points and seven assists in that one. The Spurs ended a two-game slide in this series and won for the 15th time in 19 tries against the Bulls, losers in nine of 12 contests as the host.

02/17 10:35:13 ET


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