Bulls try to avoid rare losing streak, square off with Hawks

The Chicago Bulls have yet to lose back-to-back games this season and will try to keep it that way when they pay a visit to the Atlanta Hawks tonight at Philips Arena.

The Bulls have been without reigning MVP Derrick Rose for the past seven games (5-2) because of a groin injury and he's not expected to compete tonight in order to rest up for the playoffs. Rose has missed 17 games this season with toe, back and groin issues. The top-seeded Bulls had a four-game winning streak stopped with Monday's 108-91 setback versus Denver, as C.J. Watson continued to fill in nicely for Rose and led the team with 17 points.

Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and John Lucas III all finished with 17 points for the Central Division-leading Bulls, who shot 47.3 percent from the floor and clinched a playoff spot with a win Saturday over Toronto.

"We got into their game, which is transition, windshield wiper going back and forth, back and forth," said Lucas. "That's not us. Defensively, we couldn't get stops."

Chicago has not lost consecutive games in the regular season since Feb. 5-7, 2011, a span of 83 games. It has won six in a row on the road and is 20-6 away from the United Center this season. The Bulls are the only undefeated team in the NBA (18-0) when they score 100 or more points in a game.

Atlanta is seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference and is coming off Tuesday's 108-101 loss at Milwaukee in which Josh Smith scored a team-best 30 points and pulled down 18 rebounds. Ivan Johnson added a career-high 17 points off the bench for the Hawks, who had won four in a row and six of seven games.

Jeff Teague posted 15 points and Joe Johnson added 11 in defeat.

"You get in these types of situations and the bottom line is you have to make big plays down the stretch and we didn't," said Hawks head coach Larry Drew. "Our shot selection was not very good down the stretch. We sped up and we tried to make plays that weren't there."

Johnson left the game in the first quarter and received two stitches on the inside of his mouth after taking a forearm from teammate Zaza Pachulia on a rebound. Johnson returned in the second quarter.

The Hawks are 16-7 at home this season and have won three in a row as the host. They will also host New York on the quick homestand.

Atlanta has lost two of three meetings with Chicago this season and four of five overall. The Bulls, though, have dropped seven of eight in Atlanta.