The Bulls, who have the NBA's best record at 23-6, hope to have Derrick Rose back in the lineup this afternoon. The reigning league MVP rested his ailing back against woeful Charlotte on Friday and Chicago still made it look easy by posting a 95-64 rout over the Bobcats in the Queen City.
Joakim Noah recorded a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who improved to an impressive 6-2 on their trip and became the first team to win four consecutive road games by at least 20 points. Carlos Boozer totaled 16 points and six boards in the lopsided win.
C.J. Watson started in place of Rose and contributed seven points, five assists and four steals.
"I think you have to learn how to play with a lead, you've got to play tough with a lead," said Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Celtics, meanwhile, lost their second straight contest on Friday in Toronto, falling to the Raptors 86-74. It was a modicum of revenge for Toronto, which was routed by the Celtics 100-64 back on Feb. 1
Kevin Garnett paced the Celtics with 17 points to go with eight rebounds, while Paul Pierce added 12 points and five assists in defeat.
The Raptors came out of the gate on fire. A balanced attack led by DeMar DeRozan (nine first-quarter points), Jose Calderon (eight) and James Johnson (eight) was highlighted by a floating alley-oop from Calderon to DeRozan that capped off a 14-4 start in favor of Toronto. Boston ended up scoring a season- low 14 points in the first quarter.
"Awful. Just awful," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers when asked about the first frame. "I was really frustrated."
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal did not play against the Raptors with a sore left shoulder and remains questionable for today's game.
Chicago has won three straight over Boston, including a 88-79 triumph in Beantown back on Jan. 13.