Trail Blazers-Bulls Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 20, 2013
Still fuming over a controversial finish that cost them a win over the hottest team in the Western Conference, the Chicago Bulls will try to regroup hosting one of the conference's worst road teams. The Bulls hope to get a little healthier and bounce back with their fourth win in five home games on Thursday night when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers, who have lost 14 of 16 on the road. Following Andre Iguodala's go-ahead 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left in overtime, Chicago (36-30) believed it had snapped Denver's 11-game winning streak on Joakim Noah's last-second tap-in on Monday. The officials, however, reviewed the play during the ensuing timeout and disallowed Noah's bucket for basket interference, essentially sealing the Nuggets' 119-118 victory. "We felt like we got it stolen from us,'' said forward Carlos Boozer, who had 14 points and nine rebounds in the team's fifth loss in seven games overall. Nate Robinson finished with a season-high 34 points and hit 6 of 8 from 3-point range, while Luol Deng had 21 and Marco Belinelli added 18 for the short-handed Bulls. After four players logged more than 41 minutes on Monday - Deng and Belinelli each played over 50 - Chicago hopes to have Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson back against the struggling Trail Blazers. Hinrich (foot) will be a game-time decision, while Gibson (sprained MCL) is expected to play. The Bulls are also still awaiting for star Derrick Rose's return from knee surgery. Portland (31-36), meanwhile, looks to break through on the road after dropping to 0-2 on its five-game trip following a 102-95 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Trail Blazers, who fell to 9-25 on the road, shot 2 for 20 on the way to a season-low eight points in the second quarter and trailed by 27 before their second-half rally came up short. "If you are going to come back from 27 down, how many times is that going to happen?'' guard Wesley Matthews said. "We just put our heads down and we fought.'' Matthews made a season-high seven 3-pointers and finished with 28 points. LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 with 15 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West. Portland, though, has a chance to sweep Chicago for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Blazers won 102-94 at home on Nov. 18. Matthews also played a key role in that victory, finishing with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Nicolas Batum also had 21 and drilled 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. Aldridge, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the first meeting, has averaged 26.8 and 12.2, respectively, in his last five games overall. Although it hasn't translated into victories, the Trail Blazers have hit 49 of 100 from 3-point range over their last four road contests. They'll likely have a tough time matching that efficiency against a Chicago defense that has limited opponents to 28.0 percent shooting from long range in its last five. Robinson had a team-best 18 points in the November loss and is playing well heading into this meeting. He's scored 23.0 per game and made 12 for 22 from 3-point range in his last four overall. Chicago had won five of seven at home in the series before Portland took a 100-89 victory at the United Center last March.
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