The Chicago Bulls are playing championship-caliber basketball at home this season and will have four straight chances in the Windy City to boost the NBA's best record.
The Bulls will kick off the residency tonight versus the Charlotte Bobcats at the United Center and are 6-0 at home for the first time since winning their first seven home games of the 1996-97 campaign. They won the franchise's second straight and fifth NBA title in seven years that season.
Chicago has won two straight overall and seven of its last eight games, including the last two without reigning MVP Derrick Rose. Rose has missed the last three games (2-1) because of a nagging toe injury and could be out again tonight. He is averaging 20.8 points and 8.7 assists this season for the Central Division-leading Bulls, who boast the league's best record at 14-3 and recorded a 114-75 blowout in Cleveland last night. Luol Deng scored 21 points and Carlos Boozer posted 19 with 14 rebounds to lead the attack.
"I thought our offense was terrific. Defensively, I didn't like our first quarter, but it got better as we went along," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Our turnovers were careless in the second half, so that's something we need to clean up, but I thought we had a lot of guys step up and play well."
The Bulls are 9-0 this season when holding the opposition to less than 85 points. Last year, they held their opponent to 85 points or less an NBA-best 29 times (27-2) and 11 of the 14 wins this season have been by 10 or more points. Chicago will also host the Nets, Pacers and Bucks on the homestand.
Charlotte will continue a three-game road trip tonight and has lost four in a row as the visitor. It is only 1-6 away from home this season and opened the trek with a 96-89 loss at Orlando on Tuesday.
Gerald Henderson scored 22 points and rookie Kemba Walker chipped in 15 points and a career-best six assists for the Bobcats, who have dropped eight of nine games overall. D.J. Augustin scored 13 points in a losing effort.
"The end of games are where we have to lock down and execute," Henderson said. "We'll be better off with experience like that last few games."
Bismack Biyombo posted 11 points and 10 rebounds in defeat. The Bobcats will also visit New Jersey on the road swing and is in the midst of playing nine of 11 games outside Charlotte. Henderson has topped the 20-point mark in two of his last three games, averaging 21.7 points over his last three games, while Augustin has scored in double figures in nine of his last 11 contests.
Walker is averaging 17.0 points, 4.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals over his previous four games.
The Bobcats and Bulls are playing the first of three meetings this season and will meet again on Feb. 10 and April 18 in Charlotte. The two clubs split a four-game series last season, while Charlotte has lost 10 of the 13 meetings in the Second City.