Bulls inch ahead in the East

The Chicago Bulls pulled a half-game ahead of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference with an eighth straight win Thursday, giving Chicago its longest winning streak since stringing together nine straight victories in 2005. The Bulls have outscored their opponents by 12.5 points per game during their win streak, with each of the last five wins coming by a double-digit margin. The only team to win MORE than five games in a row by at least 10 points this season is the Heat, who won nine straight by double digits from November 29 to December 13.

Most Games This Season
Holding Opponent Under 80 Pts

Chicago held New Jersey to a season-low 73 points, the NBA-best 12th time the Bulls have held an opponent under the 80-point mark this season. The only other season in franchise history when the Bulls held their opponents under 80 more times was in 1997-98, when Michael Jordan and crew held opponents under 80 13 times en route to a sixth NBA title.

The Bulls seem to have an easier road to the top seed in the Eastern Conference than the Celtics. Over the final four weeks of the regular season, Chicago will play more home games (7 to 6) and more games against teams with losing records (8 to 6) than Boston.

In other action Thursday:

• The New York Knicks set a franchise record with 20 three-pointers in their 120-99 win vs the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to Thursday, the franchise record for threes in a game had been the 19 the Knicks sank against the Grizzlies on November 12, 2008.

• It's the second time in the past week that a team has set a franchise record for threes in a game. The Golden State Warriors hit a franchise-best 21 three-pointers against the Orlando Magic last Friday. In that game, the two teams combined for an NBA-record 36 threes.

Toney Douglas did a great deal of New York's damage from behind the arc, tying a team record with a career-high nine threes. The only other players to make nine three-pointers in a game this season are J.R. Smith (March 12) and Dorell Wright (November 27).

• The Portland Trail Blazers wasted no time running away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, taking a 37-12 lead after the first quarter. The only team to have a larger lead after one quarter this season was the Celtics, who led the Atlanta Hawks 39-13 after 12 minutes on November 22nd. Portland's final margin of victory (41 points) was its largest since a 42-point win vs the Bulls on November 19, 2008.