NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 18th (All times eastern)
Chicago Bulls (49-18) at Indiana Pacers (29-39), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With a Central Division title already in tow, the Chicago Bulls eye their 50th win of the season and ninth straight victory tonight against the Indiana Pacers in the conclusion of a brief two-game road trip at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Bulls haven't won 50 games in a season since winning their sixth NBA title in 1997-98, when they went 62-20. Chicago has been on a roll lately and prevailed for the eighth time in a row with Thursday's 84-73 decision over the New Jersey Nets. Donned in their St. Patrick's Day green uniforms, the Bulls got 21 points from MVP candidate Derrick Rose and rookie Omer Asik notched his first double-double with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
"With [Asik] to come in and get that many rebounds, he got to the free throw line, dunked a lot of balls, blocked shots and played great defense," Rose said.
Luol Deng finished with 19 points for top-seeded Chicago, which has won four in a row on the road and improved to 19-14 as the visitor. The Bulls are a half-game ahead of Boston for bragging rights in the Eastern Conference.
Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer did not play because of a sprained left ankle and is questionable for Friday. He has missed three straight games and is averaging 18.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.
Indiana has lost seven of nine games, including Wednesday's 92-80 setback to the Celtics in Beantown.
Danny Granger and Paul George provided 15 points apiece, while Josh McRoberts ended with 14 and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who are eighth in the Eastern Conference standings -- just a half-game ahead of Charlotte.
"[Boston] is really tough to beat," Granger said. "They've played together for a while and know what they're doing."
Tyler Hansbrough posted 10 points and pulled down 11 boards in defeat. Darren Collison also scored 10 points, as the Pacers shot just 37.5 percent for the game.
The Pacers are back home where they own an 18-15 record.
Chicago has won the first three meetings with Indiana this season and 10 of the last 14 meetings in the series. It is only 5-18 all-time at Conseco Fieldhouse.
03/18 10:43:04 ET