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Bulls-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

Following a successful conclusion to their longest road trip of the season, the Brooklyn Nets will try to continue their recent dominance at the Barclays Center.

The Nets, though, will face one of the NBA's hottest teams, the Chicago Bulls, in their return home Monday night.

Brooklyn (28-29) won the final two games of its trip after starting 2-3 and began that streak with a 112-89 rout of Denver on Thursday. The Nets followed with a 107-98 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday, and Marcus Thornton had 25 points off the bench while helping his team overcome Kevin Garnett's absence.

The center was forced to miss the game due to back spasms, and Thornton was playing his third game for Brooklyn since being acquired from Sacramento on Feb. 19.

"I'm coming to a team with all these veterans, that know how to win, that have championship aspirations and have championships under their belts already, and a coach that has a championship, too," he said. "I knew it would be a great situation."

Thornton will next try to help Brooklyn register its fifth consecutive home win and 12th in the last 14 games. The Nets are also seeking to reach the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 5 by earning a ninth victory in 13 overall contests.

The Bulls (33-26), meanwhile, have won four in a row - one shy of tying a season high - and nine of 10. They've also taken four of five on the road and each of their two matchups against Brooklyn this season.

Chicago topped the Nets 92-76 at home Feb. 13 as part of their current hot stretch. The Bulls enter this game having scored 100 or more points in four straight games - its longest such run since Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2010 - and topped New York 109-90 on Sunday.

"We've hit a stretch where we have guys that are healthy playing that I think they know what to expect from each other," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think they're playing to their strengths."

Joakim Noah recorded his fifth career triple-double with 14 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds. The 14 assists were a franchise record for a center and the most for an NBA player at that position since at least 1985-86.

"What can you say? He is playing MVP basketball," forward Taj Gibson said. "He is doing everything in all facets of the game."

D.J. Augustin's 23 points off the bench led seven players in double figures, and the performance gave Jimmer Fredette a chance to see his first action with the team after being signed for the rest of the season Sunday.

The Bulls haven't scored 100 or more points in five straight contests since a eight-game stretch March 26-April 11, 2009. They've reached the century mark just once in the last 14 games against the Nets, a 142-134 triple-overtime victory April 27 in Game 4 of last year's playoffs.

The Bulls ended that first-round seven-game series with a 99-93 win in Brooklyn on May 4, and posted a 95-78 victory Dec. 25 in their return to the Barclays Center. Brooklyn native Taj Gibson led six Chicago players in double figures with 20 points.

Noah finished three assists shy of a triple-double in last month's win over the Nets, and had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Brooklyn's Jason Collins will make his home debut for the Nets since becoming the NBA's first openly gay player Feb. 23.

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