Bulls aim to continue recent mastery of Pistons

Chicago will host Central Division rival Detroit tonight and is closing in on becoming the first NBA team in history to avoid losing back-to-back games in the regular season.

The Bulls will also be shooting for a 14th straight win over their rivals from the Motor City.

With 14 contests remaining in the regular season Chicago has yet to lose two straight, avoiding the pratfall again in Atlanta on Wednesday when Luol Deng scored 22 points, Carlos Boozer added 20 and nine rebounds, and the Bulls continued their standard of excellence without Derrick Rose, besting the Hawks, 98-77.

Even though this is a truncated 66-game season, the records still count and no NBA team has ever gone a full campaign without losing consecutive games.

"We played great," said Deng. "We moved the ball well. Guys got easy looks because of the ball movement.

Taj Gibson added a season-best 19 points to go along with six rebounds, while John Lucas and Joakim Noah added 10 points apiece for the Bulls, who won for the fifth time in six games despite missing Rose again with a right groin injury.

Chicago improved to 6-2 in the last eight games without Rose, in part because of Deng, who again logged heavy minutes and drained five of Chicago's nine treys.

The Bulls are not only an NBA-best 41-11 overall this season, they improved to an impressive 13-5 overall without Rose, the reigning league MVP who has been beset with a host of nagging injuries this season.

Rose remains listed as day-to-day but will sit for a ninth consecutive game tonight as Chicago attempts to get its superstar right for the upcoming postseason.

The Pistons, meanwhile, climbed out of the Central cellar on Wednesday by topping Cleveland, 87-75, for their second straight victory. Tayshaun Prince had 29 points and eight rebounds in that one to help lift Detroit.

Brandon Knight posted 16 points and five assists while Jason Maxiell had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Pistons, who have won their past two after dropping the previous five and are now percentage points ahead of the Cavs in the division.

"Everyone who was on the floor contributed to the win tonight," said Detroit head coach Lawrence Frank. "We played great defense and limited our turnovers, that's a recipe for winning."

The Pistons, who could be without guards Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon tonight, haven't topped Chicago since a 104-98 win in Auburn Hills back on Dec. 23, 2008.

Stuckey, Detroit's leading scorer, tweaked his left hamstring Wednesday, while Gordon is dealing with a sore groin. Both are listed as doubtful.