The Chicago Bulls better get used to the road for a while as they are scheduled to play outside the Windy City in 11 of the next 14 games, starting with Saturday's visit with the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls are unbeaten in their last five road games and own a 12-5 ledger away from home this season. They just completed a successful four-game homestand (3-1) with Friday's 103-87 bashing of the Golden State Warriors thanks to a 31-13 advantage after the first 12 minutes.
Kirk Hinrich scored 11 of his game-high 25 points during the lopsided first quarter and Nate Robinson continued to provide a spark with 22 points for Chicago, winners in three straight and 10 of the last 13 games.
"We have to keep grinding, take it one game at a time," Bulls All-Star forward Joakim Noah said. "We have to keep our mind set on improvement. We feel our best basketball is yet to come, when our horses comes back."
Bulls All-Star forward Luol Deng (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game on Friday and is questionable against Washington. The Bulls are awaiting the upcoming return of star point guard Derrick Rose, who is still rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee.
Noah finished with 14 points and 16 boards, while Jimmy Butler had 16 points and 12 boards and Carlos Boozer provided a double-double as well, tallying 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Bulls had a 56-37 rebound advantage and have now won the last 40 games in which they score at least 100 points.
Chicago, which leads the Central Division by just a half-game ahead of Indiana, will put its 20-6 record against the East on the line Saturday. It is 11-1 on the road during that span.
The Wizards have alternated wins and losses over the past seven games and opened a three-game homestand with Friday night's 114-101 triumph versus the depleted Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Wolves star forward Kevin Love nursing a broken hand, the Wizards took advantage and received a game-high 19 points off the bench from Jordan Crawford. Nene and John Wall scored 14 points apiece for Washington, which extended its season-high home winning streak to four games. Wall started his first game of the season after coming off the pine in his initial seven games.
"We feel like we can win every game," Crawford said. "We have so many options...in crunch time when we need a bucket."
Washington outscored the Timberwolves, 31-21, in the second quarter and had a 62-48 advantage in the middle quarters.
The Wizards are 7-13 in the nation's capital and will close out the homestand Monday versus the Sacramento Kings. Their last six games have been decided by seven points or less.
Washington dropped an 87-77 decision at Chicago on Dec. 29 this season as Marco Belinelli paced the hosts with 17 points off the bench. Wizards rookie Bradley Beal netted 14 points in that one.
The Bulls have won eight of nine and 15 of the last 20 meetings with Washington, losers in four straight as the host in this series.