Bulls aim for success vs. visiting Pacers

( - The Chicago Bulls return home to try and get some much- needed wins, starting Wednesday when their Central rivals, the Indiana Pacers, visit the United Center.

The Bulls have dropped two straight and five of six. They've fallen to fourth in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Washington Wizards and a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors.

The Pacers need some wins as well. They've lost two in a row and slipped into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference alongside the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Chicago returns to the Windy City after a 1-2 trek. The Bulls needed overtime to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, then fell to the Charlotte Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

On Sunday versus Russell Westbrook, the Bulls fell, 109-100.

Chicago lost despite Nikola Mirotic's 27 points. Pau Gasol scored 20, and Joakim Noah added 15 points and seven assists.

"We're taking some tough losses right now, and it's not easy to deal with," Gasol said.

In a back-and-forth final quarter, neither team led by more than three until Westbrook's layup at 4:16. The Bulls were within one with less than two minutes to play, but Westbrook carried the team to the finish line.

After his free throw extended Oklahoma City's lead to 97-95, he stole the ball from Mirotic at the other end and flew down the court for a layup. On the next possession, he set up Anthony Morrow for a 3 to put the Thunder up seven with 40 seconds left. Westbrook scored five more points in the final minute to help seal the win.

The Bulls, who are still without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, host the Raptors on Friday.

The Pacers had won seven straight then fell on recent hard times with back-to- back home losses to the Celtics and Raptors. They head to Cleveland on Friday.

On Monday, Indiana wasn't much of a threat against the Raptors, falling, 117-98.

The Pacers lost two in a row for the first time since their seven-game losing streak in January. George Hill led Indiana with 23 points, and Rodney Stuckey netted 20 off the bench. Roy Hibbert finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

"This team is great at 3-point shooting and at drawing fouls," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "That's why they're tough to guard."

Indiana scored the last six points of the third and trailed 88-81 after 36 minutes, but like all of its earlier runs, it was answered by the Raptors.

Williams opened the fourth with a 3 to extend Toronto's lead back to 10, and the Pacers did not get any closer than nine the rest of the game. Their last field goal came with 6:15 remaining in the game, and the Raptors finished the contest on a 15-5 run.

Indiana has taken two of three this season, including the only meeting in Chicago. The Bulls have won three of the last four over the Pacers at the United Center.