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Bulls-Nets Preview

Bulls-Nets Preview
Poor defense is largely to blame for the New Jersey's struggles at the Izod Center. That's rarely been a problem for the Nets at home against the Chicago Bulls in recent years.

The Nets, who have remained competitive despite a poor record at the Izod Center, look to win their 14th straight home game versus the Bulls as the teams continue their season series Monday night.

New Jersey's has been somewhat of a surprise this season, posting a respectable 15-15 record. Most of that success has been a result of the Nets' play on the road, where they are 10-4.

New Jersey is one of four NBA teams to have won 10 or more games on the road, and its road record trails only defending league champion Boston and Orlando, who are both 10-3.

At the Izod Center, however, the Nets have gone 5-11, allowing 103.2 points a contest.

"With a team like ours, we need to put forth the extra effort," New Jersey point guard Devin Harris said. "We need to win the hustle game and do the little things to push us forward a little bit more. ... We'll figure out the home thing, but we just continue to get wins. That's what we need to do."

But for the most part of this decade, facing the Bulls (13-17) at home has been a cakewalk for the Nets. New Jersey has won 13 straight home games against Chicago since a 100-94 loss on April 17, 2001, and has earned victories in 16 of the last 17 such meetings.

The Nets have held the Bulls to 40.4 percent shooting while allowing 86.8 points per game during their streak, even though the last two contests have gone into overtime. Chicago has also been limited to 30.6 percent shooting from 3-point range and averaged 17.5 turnovers.

The Bulls have lost seven straight games away from the United Center, but handed the Nets one of their road defeats, winning 113-104 on Dec. 13.

New Jersey won on the road in its last game, beating Charlotte 114-103 on Saturday night.

Vince Carter, who had 39 points in the Nets' first meeting with Chicago this season, led the Nets with 28 versus the Bobcats.

Luol Deng, who would have likely matched up with Carter, could miss up to a week with a sprained left ankle, although he did not appear to be limping when he was held out of the Bulls' 129-117 loss to Atlanta on Saturday night.

Deng hurt the ankle while attempting to grab a rebound Friday night at Miami. An MRI exam was negative, said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, who hopes the forward misses no more than a week.

"I'm hoping three, four, five, six, seven days - somewhere in there," Del Negro said. "I don't know. We'll just figure it out as we go."

Deng, who is averaging 13.3 points in 26 games for the Chicago, was holding crutches but did not appear to put any weight on them Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Bulls big man Drew Gooden has missed four straight games with a sprained right ankle, but Del Negro said he hopes Gooden can play at New Jersey.

Chicago has lost three straight, all on the road. The Bulls were outstanding on offense against the Hawks, though, and got a particularly special effort from Ben Gordon.

Gordon scored 33 points and was 6-of-8 behind the arc to pass Scottie Pippen and become the Bulls' career leader in 3-pointers. The veteran guard had 29 points in the last meeting with New Jersey, going 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 28, 2008


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