The Chicago Bulls will look for their fifth win in the last six games Wednesday night when they welcome their Central Division rival, the Detroit Pistons, to the Windy City.
Although, calling this a rivalry lately may seem unfair. The Bulls have won 16 in a row against the Pistons, whose last victory in this series came at home on Dec. 23, 2008.
The Bulls are 8-3 in the month of January and the news gets only better for Chicago. Derrick Rose is closer to being a full participant in practices, so at the mid-point, with maybe two, maybe three Eastern All-Star berths heading to Chicago, the Bulls are in great shape.
Just don't tell their coach that.
"The road for us is not going to get easier," said Tom Thibodeau. "I don't want our guys to exhale and start feeling good. This is going to be a tough road. We have to keep battling and concentrate on the improvement."
The Bulls will play three of their next four at home, then embark on a six- game road trip before the All-Star break.
On Monday, the Bulls handled the Los Angeles Lakers, 95-83. Kirk Hinrich led the way for Chicago with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Five other Bulls players scored in double figures.
The Bulls did it, as they almost always do, with defense. Chicago ranks third in the NBA in opponents' scoring and second in opponents' field-goal percentage. The Bulls held the Lakers 20 points under their season average, while forcing 16 turnovers and holding L.A. under 40 percent from the field and below 18 percent from long range.
The Pistons will be going for three wins in a row, as they are undefeated since returning from a London loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Detroit toppled the Boston Celtics, 103-88, at home on Sunday, then bested the Orlando Magic, also in The Palace at Auburn Hills, 105-90, Tuesday night.
Six Pistons scored in double figures against the Magic, led by Brandon Knight's 18. Jason Maxiell and Andre Drummond both registered double-doubles.
The Pistons have done it with defense the last two outings. They kept the Magic to 45 percent shooting and held leading scorer Arron Afflalo scoreless in almost 38 minutes.
"The defensive intensity was good, and we have to play that way for 48 minutes," said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. "It's a dangerous way any other way."
Detroit will remain on the road following Wednesday night's contest. The Pistons will make their trek through Florida with a Friday night game against the Miami Heat and a rematch with the Magic on Sunday.