There may not be enough season left for the Chicago Bulls to make a run at a division title. A move up the Eastern Conference standings, though, is still a possibility.

The Bulls seek their third straight victory Monday night as they open a three-game homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Chicago (41-30) has rebounded from consecutive losses to teams with losing records with wins over Denver and Indiana, assuring itself of at least a .500 season.

The Bulls have won nine of 12 to pull within 1 1/2 games of Cleveland for second place in the Central Division and four games of first-pace Detroit. Chicago has two meetings left this season with the Pistons and a home matchup Saturday with the Cavaliers.

Ben Gordon delivered some late-game heroics Sunday in the Bulls' 92-90 victory at Indiana, hitting a spinning fadeaway jumper from just inside the paint with 2.8 seconds left.

Gordon, who finished with 31 points on 13-of-25 shooting from the field, is averaging a career-best 21.3 points this season.

"I was joking with my teammates on the bench, and I said 'all right, if they miss this next shot, I'm going to go make it,''' Gordon said. "I just love opportunities like that when I get a chance to help my team win a game.''

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle had high praise for Gordon.

"Gordon is as good a go-to guy as there is in this league right now,'' he said. "I can't imagine Mike (Dunleavy) playing him any better. He just changed the angle and made the shot.''

After allowing their previous two opponents - the Clippers and Denver - to shoot a combined 53.2 percent (73-of-137) from the field, the Bulls tightened up Sunday and limited Indiana to 42.1 percent (32-of-76).

Luol Deng added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago, which owns one of the league's best home records at 26-9.

The Bulls have struggled against the Western Conference. They are 29-13 against the East while only 11-17 versus the West.

Portland (29-41) was on the wrong end of a last-second, game-winning shot Sunday, as Minnesota's Kevin Garnett drained a 15-foot fadeaway jumper to give the Timberwolves a 94-93 victory.

The loss ended a three-game win streak for the Trail Blazers, who opened their four-game road trip with wins over New York and Atlanta.

Rookies Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge each had strong games in defeat. Roy had 22 points and five rebounds while Aldridge contributed 13 and six.

"We are starting to come together,'' said Roy, who leads all rookies with 16.3 points per game. "It is that time of the year when you want your young guys to play well. We are getting a lot of time. We are trying to do the most we can with it.''

Leading scorer Zach Randolph returned to the lineup for Portland after missing three games while on bereavement leave. Randolph came off the bench midway through the first quarter and finished with 19 points, nine boards and six assists.

Gordon scored 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter in Chicago's 88-86 victory at Portland on Feb. 3. The Bulls have won four of the last five meetings overall and two straight at the United Center.


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