Daily Confidential

The Chicago Bulls seemed to be on the verge of falling apart during their seven-game road trip. Early into an eight-game homestand, they appear to be turning things around.

Chicago (7-9) looks to extend its winning streak to five games Monday when it takes on the Boston Celtics.

The Bulls opened the season with a 42-point win at Miami, but struggled after and lost the first six games of the road trip before beating New York 106-95 in the finale to start this win streak. Chicago won its fourth straight on Saturday, 112-94 over Washington in the opener of the homestand.

The Bulls are averaging 108.0 points in the last six games and Saturday's 112 were a season-high.

``We were really moving the ball on the offensive end, knocking down our shots,'' said Ben Gordon, who led Chicago with 28 points. ``And when we got on defense, we were getting deflections, rebounding the ball, getting some steals and getting the fast break going.''

The Bulls led by just four in the second quarter Saturday, but received a big contribution from Gordon and Andres Nocioni, who scored a combined 25 points in the period to give Chicago a 62-44 halftime lead. The Bulls led by as many as 30 in the third quarter.

Gordon said the Bulls shouldn't get too excited about the win streak because two of the victories have come against the Knicks (6-13) and the Wizards are 0-8 on the road.

``We won four games that we should have won, but it's still good, still positive energy,'' Gordon said. ``We just have to build on it, try to get better.''

The Bulls have a good chance to lengthen the winning streak during this homestand, playing six of the next seven games against teams with a losing record, including the struggling Celtics (5-10).

Boston has lost two straight and four of its last five, including a 106-102 defeat at Toronto on Friday. The Celtics shot 52.2 percent from the field, but allowed Toronto to shoot 55.3 percent - a season high for a Boston opponent.

``When one guy breaks down it hurts the whole defense,'' said Paul Pierce, who led the Celtics with 19 points and nine assists. ``When we allow 55 percent, I think that's just all mental toughness right there.''

Pierce had his elbow iced after the game. He was hurt in the second half when he crashed to the floor.

``It is sore and has swelled up,'' said Pierce, who is averaging a team-high 26.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. ``I fell right on it and it is a little sore right now. I will give it a couple of days rest and see how it feels. I will have the doctor look at it.''

Boston, 2-4 on the road this season, is in a stretch of playing 11 of 16 games away from TD Banknorth Garden.

Chicago won all four games against the Celtics last season to extend its win streak in the series to five.

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