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Posted Dec 13 2006 1:50AM
The Chicago Bulls have been nearly unbeatable at home recently, but they can expect a test from a team they haven't beaten there since winning their last championship.
The Bulls will try to end an eight-game home slide Wednesday against the Seattle SuperSonics at the United Center.
Chicago's last home win over Seattle came Jan. 13, 1998, when Michael Jordan scored 40 points in a 101-91 victory. The Bulls finished 62-20 that season en route to their sixth title in eight years.
Since then, Chicago has failed to score 100 points in any of its home losses to Seattle, but it's not just at home where they've struggled. Since sweeping the season series in 1996-97, the Bulls also have dropped 13 of 17 overall to the Sonics.
Chicago (11-10) continued its recent stretch of impressive play at home Monday with a 106-91 win over the short-handed Indiana Pacers.
With Pacers' stars Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring), Al Harrington and Marquis Daniels (food poisoning) and Stephen Jackson (team-imposed suspension) all out, the Bulls shot 83 percent in the first quarter en route to a 42-25 lead and cruised from there.
Ben Gordon came off the bench, was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and finished with 23 points while Luol Deng added 22.
``Any time you get off to a good start at home, it's going to help, especially against a depleted squad. We had to guard against relaxing too much,'' said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich.
Ben Wallace had 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Bulls improved to 5-1 in their last six at home.
With Detroit last season, Wallace had 21 rebounds - one off his season high - in a home win Jan. 6 over Seattle. A four-time NBA defensive player of the year, Wallace averaged 15.5 rebounds against the Sonics in 2005-06.
Seattle (10-12) got 26 points from Rashard Lewis and shot 51.3 percent from the field - a season-high for a road game - but lost 94-93 to Milwaukee on Tuesday to start a five-game road trip.
``We had control of the game most of the game,'' said Ridnour, who had 12 points and eight assists, but also committed six turnovers. ``We got all the stops we needed, just had a couple of balls go in and out and just weren't able to finish it.''
The loss was the Sonics' first in four games since leading scorer and six-time All-Star Ray Allen went down with a bone bruise in his right foot that will sideline him for at least this road trip. Allen, who is not with the team while he gets treatment for the injury, is averaging 25.3 points.
Lewis is second with 22.6 points per game and shooting 49.6 percent from the field. The nine-year veteran, who made the jump from high school to the NBA, is faring slightly better on the road, averaging 24.3 points while shooting 52.0 percent from the field.
The Sonics also lost reserve guard Earl Watson after he left in the second quarter with a lower back contusion and will be a game-time decision for this contest. He was 0-for-3 from the field, but had five assists and one rebound in 9 minutes.
The Bulls and Sonics will complete the season series Feb. 2 in Seattle.
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