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Bulls Look to Continue Rolling, Host Lakers
Posted Dec 20 2006 10:27AM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
After beating most of their opponents easily during their current surge, the Chicago Bulls needed a late rally to win a close one in their last outing.
The Bulls (14-10) look to keep rolling when they return to the United Center to wrap up their season series with the Los Angeles Lakers (16-8) on Tuesday night.
Chicago improved to 11-1 in its last 12 games by defeating Atlanta 106-104 on Saturday in its first overtime game of the season.
The Bulls came back from an 87-75 deficit in the fourth quarter, tying it at 93 on two free throws by Ben Wallace with 35 seconds left to send the game to an extra period.
Chicago entered the game against the Hawks having defeating opponents by an average of 13.3 points in its last 10 wins.
``Every once in a while you need to win a close game and see exactly where you are when the game is going back and forth. That's how you measure where your team is,'' said Wallace, who finished with team highs of 15 rebounds and eight assists.
The Bulls looked like a different team compared to the last time they played the Lakers.
Chicago lost to Los Angeles 82-72 on Nov. 19 during a disastrous seven-game road trip, a stretch in which it dropped the first six games. The Bulls finished with their lowest point total of the season and shot a season-low 33.8 percent from the floor.
Kobe Bryant had just 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting against Chicago in that matchup, but has been red-hot lately.
Bryant had 45 points to go with 10 assists and eight rebounds Sunday, but Washington's Gilbert Arenas had 60 as the Lakers lost 147-141 in overtime.
Asked why Arenas was able to score so many points Sunday night, Bryant said, ``First of all, he shot 27 free throws. We as a team shot 30. Think about that.''
Bryant, who scored a season-high 53 points in Los Angeles' double-overtime win over Houston on Friday, is averaging 37.6 points while going 19-for-38 on 3-pointers in his last five games.
The eight-time All-Star was 7-of-11 on 3s against the Wizards as the Lakers attempted a franchise-record 44 shots from beyond the arc, making 19.
Los Angeles has won five of its last seven against the Bulls, but the teams have split their series the last two seasons.
The Lakers are 3-4 away from Staples Center this season, having played the fewest road games in the league, while Chicago is 10-2 at home.
The Bulls should be happy to be back at the United Center, where they went 7-1 on an eight-game homestand before the trip to Atlanta.
Andres Nocioni, who scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Hawks, had 30 points and shot 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the first matchup of the season with Los Angeles. Nocioni had averaged just 5.3 points on 30.3 percent shooting (10-of-33) in his first four career games against the Lakers.
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