(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers had a five-game winning streak snapped last time out, and will face a tough challenge Friday night when they visit the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
In game three of a five-game odyssey, the Trail Blazers fell to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night, 90-82. It marked the third time in their last four games the Blazers failed to crack 100 points.
Damian Lillard, who entered the contest 8-1 in his career against Minnesota, led the Blazers with 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Wesley Matthews tallied 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge scored all of his 10 points in the second half for Portland. The bench only tallied 18 points for the Blazers.
"They played with a lot of energy and they scored a lot of energy points," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Those plays not only gave them energy, but were a little deflating to us."
Portland closes its road trip Saturday night versus the Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls have alternated losses and wins over their last four, including two home setbacks during that stretch.
Derrick Rose scored 23 points and the Bulls stifled the Brooklyn Nets in the second half en route to a 105-80 victory on Wednesday.
After holding the Nets to 31.8 percent shooting in the third quarter to take a 77-68 lead into the fourth, Chicago's defense yielded a mere 12 points in the final period to send Brooklyn to a third straight lopsided defeat.
Taj Gibson led the Bulls' stout defensive effort with six blocks in addition to recording 11 points and 10 rebounds. Pau Gasol swatted away four shots to go along with 16 points and 16 boards, with Jimmy Butler chipping in 18 points in the win.
"Taj was very active, obviously, and so was Pau. And I thought we were better with our ball pressure, too," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You never get there (defensively), you have to constantly work at it. But I liked the way we practiced this week."
Gibson started in place of regular center Joakim Noah, who sprained his ankle in Saturday's loss to Golden State. Noah was limited at practice on Thursday and is not expected to play on Friday.
The Bulls hit the road for two tilts against the Southeast Division, starting Sunday in Miami and ending Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Blazers beat the Bulls by 18 points on Nov. 21 in the Moda Center. They have won seven consecutive games in this series and three in a row in the Windy City.