CHICAGO – One of the things that the Bulls were hoping for when they signed the Chicago native as a free agent during the All-Star Break is that he would bring energy and defense.

Though it’s a small sample size, maybe that hope is coming to fruition when it comes to Patrick Beverley, who started his first two games with the team this weekend.

After losing their final six games before the All-Star Break, the Bulls delivered two strong defensive performances in two much-needed victories to start their stretch run of the season.

They allowed just 87 points in a 44-point crushing of the Nets on Friday night at the United Center and were even better on defense in a 102-82 win over the Wizards at home Sunday.

Per Bulls public relations, it’s the first time in almost six years that the Bulls have held consecutive opponents under 90 points.

On April 10, 2017, the Bulls held the Magic to just 75 in a 47-point victory at the United Center. Two days later at home, the Bulls beat the Nets 112-73 to finish their regular season.

Friday night the Bulls held Brooklyn, a team that lost both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline, to just 37 percent shooting from the field. That included allowing just 11 points in the second quarter, and they were only able to get into the 80s due to a 36-point burst in the final 12 minutes.

Two days later, the Bulls held Washington to 42.1 percent shooting and just 6-for-28 behind the three-point line in allowing just 82 points.

As for Beverly, who played in 45 games for the Lakers before being traded to Orlando where he was bought out, he was a starter for both contests. The guard logged 22 minutes on Friday, scoring eight points with five rebounds and four assists then was held scoreless Sunday in 26 minutes with five rebounds, an assist, and a block.

With the victories, the Bulls pulled within a half-game of the Wizards for the tenth and final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. They now hit the road for a quick two-game road trip against the Raptors Tuesday in Toronto at 6:30 p.m. central time and Wednesday against the Pistons in Detroit at 6 p.m. central time.