Bulls won't play at home until the new year

Updated 12/6/2011 10:19 PM
  • Defending MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls get the ball rolling with four road games starting Christmas Day in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

    Defending MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls get the ball rolling with four road games starting Christmas Day in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

Bulls fans waited all this time for the NBA lockout to end, and now they'll have to endure a few more days before the first official home game.

The league already revealed the Bulls' opener against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 25. That game will be followed by dates at Golden State, Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers.

The Bulls won't play at the United Center until Game No. 5 -- on Sunday, Jan. 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The NBA released the lockout-shortened, 66-game schedule Tuesday. The length of the season was extended by just eight days, so the Bulls and every other team will be busy. Here are some highlights:

Exhibition grudge:

Each team will play two preseason games against the same opponent, so the Bulls will line up for a couple of ho-hum games against Indiana.

Oh, wait, last season's playoffs began with a foul-filled and physical five-game series against the Pacers. It has been a long wait, but this rivalry might still be sizzling.

Triple play:

Part of the fallout from a congested schedule is the privilege of playing three games in three nights.

The Bulls will be hit with this experience just once, Jan. 9-11, when they host Detroit, then visit Minnesota, then return home to face Washington. This one goes on to become a stretch of five games in six nights.

Ice, ice baby:

The lockout eliminated the dreaded circus road trip in November. But the ice show trip still exists and it's a monster, with nine road games in 15 days, starting with Miami on Jan. 29. This trek is all Eastern Conference except for a visit to New Orleans.

Heat it up:

The NBA made certain to schedule the maximum four games between the Bulls and Miami. The Eastern Conference finals rematch will hit Chicago on March 14 and April 12. All four games will be national telecasts, either on ABC, TNT or ESPN. The Bulls also get Boston, Atlanta and New York four times.

Distant thunder:

The Bulls will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder for an April Fool's Day matinee on ABC. But there is no return trip.

Each team is playing 18 games out of conference, which means the Thunder, Lakers, Clippers, Golden State, San Antonio and Minnesota will not take the floor at the United Center. The Bulls won't go to Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Utah, Denver or Portland. They play Memphis, New Orleans and Sacramento twice.

Home heavy:

After the long ice-show trip, the Bulls play 13 of 17 games at home between Feb. 14 and March 17. They'll also finish the lockout season 2011-12 at home against Cleveland on April 26.

Does LeBron still play for the Cavs? Last season ended so long ago, it's tough to remember.

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