Chicago has won back-to-back games and is battling the Toronto
Raptors for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are
well-rested as they have been off since posting an impressive 89-77
victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday. Chicago's Joakim Noah
said it will be a challenge for his squad to silence Aldridge. "For
a big, he's probably the most polished big in the NBA in terms of
scoring the ball," Noah told reporters. "He can do a lot of things.
It's going to take a team effort — just find a way."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN Northwest (Portland), WCIU (Chicago)
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (46-27): Aldridge missed seven straight
games with a back injury and Portland struggled mightily without
him. But he played 32 solid minutes against Atlanta and recorded his
37th double-double of the season and point guard Damian Lillard
cited the difference his presence makes. "We're a whole different
team with him," Lillard said afterward. "He's our best player. He
brings balance to our team. We had an inside presence and we were
able to play inside-out, like we have all year. I just think with
him out there, we just got more quality shots."
ABOUT THE BULLS (40-31): Forward Taj Gibson had 23 points and eight
rebounds in the win over the Pacers and is averaging 13.4 points and
6.8 rebounds while experiencing the best season of his five-year
career. "He's improved in all areas, offense and defense," coach Tom
Thibodeau told reporters. "He's a starter who comes off the bench.
He's played great in the fourth quarter for us. He's a guy who you
can throw the ball into who can get a quality shot. He can also face
up to the basket. You can play a pick-and-roll game with him. He
scores in the post as well as making plays. Defensively, he's as
good as it gets — great feet, great anticipation, great multiple
effort, great at protecting the rim."
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Portland has won the last five meetings, including a 98-95 home
victory Nov. 22 — the game in which Bulls G Derrick Rose injured his
Chicago has held seven straight opponents under 100 points,
giving up an average of 87.7 during the stretch.
Trail Blazers G Mo Williams had 11
assists against the Hawks to match his season high.
PREDICTION: Bulls 90, Trail Blazers 86
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