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Bulls-Clippers Preview

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Chris Paul isn’t taking for granted the work DeAndre Jordan is doing to keep the Los Angeles Clippers competitive defensively and on the boards.

The Chicago Bulls excelled in those areas in recent years, but they’re struggling to find consistency this season.

The Clippers seek consecutive wins for the first time since a 2-0 start when they try to end Chicago’s best road start in 18 years Monday night.

Although it ranks near the bottom of the league with a minus-5.4 rebounding margin and is in the bottom third with 102.4 points allowed per game, Los Angeles (5-3) is showing improvement, thanks in part to Jordan.

The center ranks among the NBA leaders with 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. He made his mark Saturday with a season-high 18 rebounds, 12 points and a season-high seven blocks in a 120-107 home win over Phoenix.

Jordan is set to play in his 249th consecutive regular-season game, the longest active streak in the league. He can tie Freeman Williams for third place in team history behind Randy Smith (595) and Michael Brooks (293).

“D.J. is one of those guys that thankfully doesn’t miss games,” said Paul, who scored a season-high 32 points. “I almost couldn’t imagine him not out there, because he covers so much on the defensive end.”

After getting outrebounded in each of their first six contests, the Clippers have held the advantage in their last two with Jordan totaling 31 boards. They’ve limited opponents to a 39.0 field-goal percentage in those contests after allowing a 49.1 mark in their first six.

The Bulls (7-3) have been in the top 10 in the league in rebounding margin the past five seasons and were ranked in the top three in points allowed in the last four, but they haven’t been nearly as good in those areas in 2014-15.

Chicago’s minus-2.5 rebounding margin is in the bottom third of the league, and it’s giving up 97.9 points per game. The Bulls were outrebounded 46-34 and allowed depleted Indiana to shoot 48.1 percent in a 99-90 home loss Saturday.

“It’s all effort; we’ve got to attack the ball and go get it,” guard Jimmy Butler told the NBA’s official website.

The Bulls have given up averages of 95.8 points and 41.0 percent shooting during a 5-0 road start, their best since winning their first six in 1996-97.

They’ll attempt to extend that success as they open their annual circus trip, this one made up of seven games in 15 days.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Butler said. “We get to spend a lot of time around each other.”

Chicago lost Derrick Rose to a season-ending knee injury on the second stop of its 1-5 circus trip last season. Now Rose’s status is uncertain again after he sat out Saturday due to a hamstring injury.

Rose has averaged 31.7 points and 11.7 assists in his last three meetings with the Clippers. He hasn’t faced them since December 2011, though.

Jimmy Butler, averaging a team-high 21.3 points, could help pick up the scoring slack after he had a career-high 32 on Saturday.

Blake Griffin has scored 26.3 per game — his highest against any opponent — in seven career matchups with Chicago.

Los Angeles has won the last four meetings by an average of 20.5 points.

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