Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Friday, December 31st
Game 2: Wednesday, January 5th
Game 3: Thursday, March 17th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Nets 81

(9-24, 3-15 away)

Bulls 90

(21-10, 13-3 home)

    Coverage: WGN

    3:00 PM ET, December 31, 2010

    United Center, Chicago, IL

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 21 23 19 1881
    CHI 23 23 24 2090

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: B. Lopez 19 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Chicago: C. Boozer 20 Pts, 15 Reb, 4 Ast

    Nets-Bulls Preview


    The Chicago Bulls were one of the few teams to struggle against the New Jersey Nets last season. The addition of Carlos Boozer should help remedy those troubles.

    Boozer has had some impressive performances lately -- and against the Nets in recent years -- and he'll look to lead the Bulls to a 12th win in 14 games Friday against New Jersey.

    After missing the first month of the season with a broken hand, Boozer has given Chicago (20-10) a needed physical presence in the post and has been instrumental to the team's surge. He's averaging 27.8 points and 12.3 rebounds in his last four games.

    The Bulls lost their first two games following his return but have since won 11 of 13, with Boozer and All-Star point guard Derrick Rose starting to jell.

    "He is teaching me," said Rose, averaging 24.5 points and 8.8 assists in the last six games. "He knows sometimes he doesn't need to set the pick or he can slip if I just drive at his man and his man stays with me I can just bounce pass and he has his left hand. Everything is coming to us, but we've got to continue to do it."

    The Bulls defeated Milwaukee 90-77 on Tuesday to move 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2006-07 season 49-33, and now they face a New Jersey team that is 72 games below .500 since the start of last season.

    Although the Nets went 12-70 in 2009-10, they managed to take two of three from Chicago for their only season series win over any opponent. One of those victories came at the United Center, the Nets' lone road victory in a stretch of 28 games away from New Jersey.

    A major reason the Bulls struggled in last season's defeats to the Nets is because they were outscored by an average of 13.0 points in the paint. They should have better luck inside with the 6-foot-9 Boozer, who is averaging 29.7 points on 74.5 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds in his last three games against New Jersey.

    The Nets (9-23) arrive in Chicago following a sloppy 114-93 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, their third straight defeat by at least 14 points.

    Devin Harris and Brook Lopez each scored 19 points against the Thunder but also combined for seven of New Jersey's 23 turnovers. The second and third quarters were especially discouraging for the Nets, as they had 16 turnovers to only five assists while being outscored 64-46.

    "We're not in good rhythm right now and we're going to have to break out of it here sometime soon," said coach Avery Johnson, whose Nets have lost 12 of 13 on the road.

    All these turnovers have put extra pressure on New Jersey's defense, which is already struggling.

    The Nets are yielding an average of 107.7 points on 52.5 percent shooting during their skid after limiting teams to an average of 90.7 points on 41.3 percent shooting in splitting their previous six games. If New Jersey allows 100 points for a fourth straight game, that could spell trouble, as the Bulls have won each of their last seven contests when reaching the century mark.

    "We're in a bad cycle defensively," Johnson said. "The turnovers don't help our defense at all. We think we're pretty good when we get in the half court and get our defense set, but we're not as good when we're turning the ball over."