NBA

Nikola Mirotic.

Fred Hoiberg credits Nikola Mirotic for the Chicago Bulls' shock six-game winning streak

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The Chicago Bulls currently own the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference after securing their sixth straight victory on Monday night.

In another impressive showing, the Bulls overcame the Philadelphia 76ers 117-115 in a tight affair at United Center.

It is a surprising turnaround for the franchise after they were rooted to the bottom of the east with a 3-20 record prior to this incredible winning run.

Head coach Fred Hoiberg is in no doubt who has been the inspiration behind their change of fortunes; Nikola Mirotic.

The 26-year-old missed the first eight weeks of the campaign after a physical altercation with Bobby Portis saw him end up with a facial fracture.

But Chicago has won all six games since he returned to the fold and he's having a major impact on the young team.

"Niko has brought a confidence to this team," Hoiberg said, per ESPN's Nick Friedell. "You see our bench really rallying behind him when he's out there making plays. You see the guys on the floor celebrating together when he makes the big plays.

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls

"Niko's been in pressure situations a lot over the course of his basketball life. And it's great to have an experienced player out there with our young guys to help close some of the close ones.

"I give Niko a lot of credit; he's been awesome, especially since he's been back in the lineup. When you've got guys out there playing with confidence, that rubs off on the whole team."

Mirotic posted 22 points and 13 rebounds in the win over the Sixers and has recorded four straight games of 20-plus points, which is the longest such streak of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Over the six games he's featured in, the power forward is averaging 20.3 points and 7.3 rebounds.

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls

This is a remarkable revival after his future in the Windy City was in doubt following his dust-up with Portis. Some reports suggested that the fourth year man had told the organization that one of them had to leave.

Despite still not communicating with each other off the court, Mirotic and Portis have agreed to work together and remain professional after the latter apologized for his actions.

The Montenegrin is clearly playing with a different edge this season and is enjoying having fun on the court again.

"When I'm out there, I'm just trying to make it simple," he said. "It's true that I'm playing with a lot of confidence right now. It's been a long time -- I didn't have fun like now playing basketball.

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers

"A long, long time. Especially coming after a hard moment [with Portis]. ... I tell myself, 'Niko, just try to do your work. Try to have fun. Try to put all that work you did during the summer [toward] the game.'"

He has certainly shown a vast improvement and the Bulls are reaping the rewards. They'll look to increase their run to seven games when they face the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

Topics:
Nikola Mirotic
Chicago Bulls
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA

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