Bulls-Timberwolves Preview

After struggling for much of this month, the Chicago Bulls

managed to overcome their injuries last time out. A matchup with

the Minnesota Timberwolves could help keep them heading in the

right direction.

The short-handed Bulls will try to earn back-to-back wins for

only the second time since the beginning of February on Sunday

night by adding to their recent dominance over the

Timberwolves.

Still awaiting Derrick Rose’s return, Chicago was also without

Joakim Noah on Saturday against Central Division-leading Indiana.

The Bulls still rallied from a 10-point deficit for an 87-84

win.

Luol Deng had a team-best 20 points, and veteran center Nazr

Mohammed was one of four Chicago players to score in double figures

in his second start this season.

“Everybody stepped up,” forward Taj Gibson said. “We don’t have

time to worry about injuries. Whoever is out there has to do the

job.”

Noah is also expected to sit out Sunday’s visit to Minnesota

because of chronic plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and Kirk

Hinrich’s status is unclear after he bruised his thigh in

Saturday’s victory. Chicago has also been playing without veteran

guard Richard Hamilton (back spasms).

“That is the way we have to play; we have to do it

collectively,” said coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team has only won

three of its last nine games.

The Bulls (37-31) are 9-14 since the beginning of last month,

recording their only consecutive wins over that span on Feb. 28 and

March 2. They’ve dropped five of six on the road.

“We kind of lost momentum in the second half of this season.

We’re just trying to get guys healthy and keep playing the right

way,” Gibson said. “We did that (against Indiana), but we have

another tough test (Sunday). We’ve got to keep doing our

thing.”

The Bulls will try for their seventh win in a row over Minnesota

(24-43). Chicago won 87-80 at home in the most recent meeting

between the teams Nov. 10, with Nate Robinson’s 18 points off the

bench leading five players in double figures.

The Timberwolves, 8-28 in their last 36 games, will once again

face the Bulls without star forward Kevin Love. Minnesota, though,

is coming off a 117-86 win at Phoenix on Friday.

In his fourth game back from a strained calf, Andrei Kirilenko

led seven Minnesota players in double figures with 20 points. Chase

Budinger had 11 in his second game since a four-month absence with

a knee injury.

“Whatever your record is, you want to build on something going

down the stretch. We got this road win. Now we head home,” coach

Rick Adelman said. “We’ll play a lot of good teams at home (in

upcoming games). We’ve got some people back and we want to try to

build off this.”

With a healthier rotation, Minnesota will try to build on its

first back-to-back home victories since a five-game run at the

Target Center from Nov. 30-Dec. 20. The Bulls, however, have won

three straight in Minneapolis, including a 111-100 victory last

season.

The Bulls got 31 points and 11 assists from Rose in that win

while Deng had 21 points and 11 rebounds.