(SportsNetwork.com) - Before the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets head to the All-Star break, the two teams will tip off Thursday at the United Center.
The Bulls have been one of the best in the league since the calendar turned and are 14-7 in 2014. They won for the third time in four tries with Tuesday's 100-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, as Joakim Noah recorded his first triple-double of the season and fourth of his career.
Noah finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, and has pulled down 10 or more rebounds in 22 of his last 23 games. He is Chicago's lone All-Star.
"Offensively for the last I'd say 25 games or so (Noah's) been in a great rhythm," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau told the team's website. "He's doing a lot of great things for us, making plays. He's comfortable on the perimeter. He's comfortable in the post, the dribble hand off, the pick and roll, the ability to make quick decisions."
Taj Gibson led the Bulls with 24 points and had 12 rebounds, and is averaging 22.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in his last three games. Mike Dunleavy (15), D.J. Augustin (13), Jimmy Butler (12) and Kirk Hinrich (10) all scored in double figures for the Bulls. Butler added 13 boards to his totals.
Chicago, which was coming off a 3-3 road trip, shot 50.6 percent and improved to 14-10 at the United Center this season.
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer missed his third straight game with a nagging calf injury and is questionable Thursday. He is posting an average of 14.8 points and 8.6 rebounds this season.
Brooklyn is 8-15 away from home this season and will start a season-long seven-game road trip in Chicago. After the All-Star break, the Nets will head west to face Utah, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland, Denver, and will close the lengthy jaunt at Milwaukee on March 1.
The Nets are playing just as well as Chicago, having won four of five and 14 of the last 19 games, and recorded a 105-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday at Barclays Center.
A 35-19 difference in the third quarter propelled Brooklyn to its fourth straight home win, as Paul Pierce led the way with 25 points. Deron Williams, Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic scored 13 points apiece for the Nets, who made 50 percent of their shots.
"It all started on the defensive end. We got stops. Offensively, we were moving the ball, passing up shots and making plays for the team," said Nets coach Jason Kidd.
Joe Johnson scored eight points versus Charlotte and is Brooklyn's only All- Star selection.
The Nets have won 18 in a row when leading at halftime and will try to keep the Bulls under 95 points. They are 15-0 when holding opponents below that mark. The Bulls are averaging 92.3 points per game, the second lowest in the NBA.
Brooklyn sustained a 95-78 home loss to the Bulls on Christmas Day and was led by Williams' 18 points. Gibson had 20 points off the bench in that one for Chicago, which has won three straight, eight of 10 and 10 of the last 14 meetings between the teams.
The Nets haven't fared so well in Chicago lately, losing two straight, six of seven and 12 of their last 15 trips there. They are 19-57 all-time in the Windy City.