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Nikola Mirotic's return continues to fuel surprising run for Chicago Bulls

From NBA media reports

* Tonight on League Pass: Bulls vs. Cavaliers (7 p.m. ET)

Break up the Chicago Bulls. No, really. Someone better do something to slow down one of the hottest teams in the league, only the Toronto Raptors (9-1) and Cleveland Cavaliers (8-2) have been better than the Bulls (7-3) in their last 10 games. And the Bulls bring the best win-streak in the Eastern Conference into tonight’s matchup (7 ET, League Pass) against the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.

It’s a whole new world for Fred Holberg’s team since Nikola Mirotic came back from his injury. The Bulls have rebounded from a demoralizing 10-game losing streak to this current run, where everyone Hoiberg taps for playing time is contributing and the collective confidence is soaring. And just in time for the holiday, as Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reports:

“It’s a blast,” center Robin Lopez of current life as Bull. “We’re winning. Guys are playing hard, they’re playing together and they’re willing to play better. It’s a fun combination.”

This absurd run figures to end in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers are 13-4. But don’t make any assumptions, not after the Bulls tricked everyone with that early-season tank job.

And as an added bonus, the Bulls should have fresh legs heading into Quicken Loans Arena. Wednesday night’s romp allowed coach Fred Hoiberg to disperse his minutes. No one logged more than Denzel Valentine’s 29.

“That’s important,” Hoiberg said. “And with the dynamic of our group, playing a lot of different guys, we’re going to have balanced minutes.”

After Hoiberg added that it “will be a juggling act for us” after Zach LaVine returns, at least one media member chuckled.

As recently as early December, this roster looked sickly. Benny the Bull deserved minutes. Now? Portis, for example, was used for just 14 minutes, 37 seconds and he scored 14 points.

“Us winning is always great,” Portis said. “It’s a different feel.”