Bulls Top Nets 84-73 With The Help Of An Irish Rose

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Bulls top Nets 84-73 With The Help Of An Irish Rose

With just over three minutes left and a 14 point advantage reduced to 2, Derrick Rose made the kind of play that has defined his season. The MVP candidate stepped into the passing lane, picked off an errant Deron Williams pass and blurred his way to a coast-to-coast layup. That was as close as the Nets would ever get.

Beyond Rose's line of 21 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, which was impressive given the plodding pace of the game, is his ability to stop opposing runs and to close out games. It is uncanny, and one of the main reasons the Bulls have soared to the top of the Eastern Conference this season. With the win, the Bulls win streak moves to 8 straight games, their longest stretch of W's since 2005

Omer Asik bounced back from a sub-par performance against the Wizards to record his first career double-double, with 11 points and 16 rebounds, 9 of them offensive. Asik is still learning the NBA game, but if he ever figures out how to catch an interior pass, there could be a lot of double-doubles in his future.

Cool Hand Luol Deng once again filled the gaps that needed filling for Chicago, notching 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. In his return from the flu, Joakim Noah played a crucial role as a distributor when the Nets employed a trapping defense to get the ball out of Rose's hands. Noah finished with 10 rebounds and 6 assists.

With the win, the Bulls move back into sole possession of first place in the Eastern conference. Chicago is now one win away from its first 50-win season since His Airness donned the red and black. Impressive as tonight's win was against the Nets (or the Nyets if you like, as Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns the team), the Bulls will need to move on quickly as they head to Indianapolis to face a Pacers team that has shown improvement under interim coach Frank Vogel.

Quick Hits

- The Nets are the 12th opponent the Bulls have held under 80 points this season. The franchise record is 13 opponents set in the '97-98 season.

- The battle of the point guard elite certainly didn't show up in the box score: Rose went 8-23 from the field, while Deron Williams went 1-12.

- The Bulls outscored the Nets in the paint 46-22.

- On his birthday, Kyle Korver finished with 12 points and his 999th career three-pointer.

Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks

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Chicago Bulls Vs. New Jersey Nets: Two Streaks Enter, One Streak Leaves

Winners of seven straight games, the red-hot Bulls (48-18) begin their two game road trip tonight in New Jersey against the Nets  (22-43), owners of a five-game winning streak of their own.

A bit of good news arrived Thursday morning for Chicago as Joakim Noah will return to the lineup from the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of Tuesday's win over the Wizards. Carlos Boozer, a famously slow healer, will not play again. Our best guess is that he will miss both games on the road trip and return to the lineup at home on Monday against Sacramento.

For whatever reason, the Bulls seem to struggle playing in New Jersey, having lost 3 in a row and 19 of their last 21. Having lost there in January on a Sasha Vujacic jumpshot on a broken play, we would guess Coach Tom Thibodeau won't have trouble motivating his players.

Nets To Watch For

This New Jersey team is a new one, with All-Star Deron Williams now manning the point after being traded from the Utah Jazz in a deadline deal. With a win against Eastern conference co-leader Boston on Monday, it looks as though Williams has found his role on the team and the pieces are beginning to jell. Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries complement each other well in the New Jersey frontcourt with Lopez's scoring and Humphries' rebounding.

Bulls To Watch For

This will be a game that is run in the half court, as the Nets favor a slower pace of play. That means Luol Deng should get a lot of looks as the offense's second option with Boozer still on the shelf. Derrick Rose, who seems to have rediscovered his jump shot, will battle against Williams for the fifth time in his career. As they have split the previous four matchups and both players tend to be among the first mentioned in the "best point guard alive" conversation, it should be a fun game within the game to watch. Joakim Noah returns to the lineup, meaning Taj Gibson returns to the bench. The second unit struggled without him against the Wizards, as the Bulls were forced to shake up their rotation without Noah and Boozer.

Mismatched as the records may be, this is not only a test for the Bulls but a bit of a revenge game. The contest begins at 6:00 p.m. CDT on WGN (Chicago feed only).

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