Bulls finish lengthy homestand vs. Hornets

Claiming to be pain free, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose game homestand at the United Center.

Rose battled a toe and lower back issues throughout the first half of the season and the Bulls still worked their way to the second-best record in the East at 27-8. Rose took part in this past weekend's All-Star Game, scoring 14 points in a 152-149 loss to the Western Conference. The reigning MVP will play his third game since missing five in a row with a back issue and has scored 23 and 16 points, respectively, since his return.

The Bulls have a comfortable lead atop the Central Division and entered the break having won nine of 11 games, including last Wednesday's 110-91 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks. Joakim Noah recorded his first career triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Carlos Boozer added 20 points and seven boards.

"Obviously it's a very humbling accomplishment," said Noah, who became the first Bulls center since Artis Gilmore in 1977 to post the trifecta. "But we're playing for more than that."

Chicago is 4-1 on the homestand and 13-2 in the Second City this season. Dating back to last season, the Bulls are 49-7 (.875) at the United Center. Bulls guards C.J. Watson (concussion) and Richard Hamilton (thigh) missed the game. Hamilton is still out indefinitely and Watson is listed as questionable tonight. Chicago is 13-0 this year when it scores 100 or more points in a game, but it has reached the mark only twice in the past eight tries.

After hosting the Hornets Tuesday evening, the Bulls will play three straight on the road against San Antonio, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

New Orleans has picked up the slack since losing eight in row from Jan. 29- Feb. 10, and has prevailed in four of its last six games.

The Hornets will close out a six-game road trip tonight and pushed their record to 3-2 on the trek following last Wednesday's 89-84 victory at Cleveland behind Chris Kaman's 21 points and 13 rebounds. Marco Belinelli scored 19 points, Jarrett Jack netted 16 off the bench and Gustavo Ayon added 17 rebounds to go with nine points in the win.

"We might have a losing record, but there's not going to be one night that we're not going to come out here on any court and (not) play hard," said Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez, who posted 13 points. "We play hard. We outplayed them because we were ready to play and that's the attitude (we had)."

New Orleans is 5-11 away from the Big Easy this season and will begin a three- game homestand Wednesday versus the Raptors, Mavericks and Pacers. The team hopes to get some healthy members of the team back soon in Emeka Okafor (knee) and Jason Smith (concussion). Eric Gordon (knee) and Carl Landry (knee) are still bothered by their injuries.

The Hornets will face the Bulls for the second time this season after dropping a 90-67 decision on Feb. 8 in New Orleans. Boozer posted 18 points to lead Chicago, while Kaman led the Hornets with 17 and nine rebounds. Chicago has won seven in a row and 10 of the past 12 meetings between the teams.

Chicago has won three straight in the Windy City against New Orleans. New Orleans last defeated the Bulls on March 17, 2008 in a 108-97 win at home.