NBA Game Summary - New Jersey at Chicago
(Tuesday, March 18th)
Final Score: Chicago 112, New Jersey 96
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Luol Deng scored a team-high 20 points to lead five Bulls in double figures, as Chicago downed New Jersey, 112-96, at the United Center.
Drew Gooden finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Ben Gordon chipped in 17 points off the bench for the Bulls, who opened a four-game homestand by snapping a two-game skid. Larry Hughes tallied 16 points, five boards, five assists and four steals for Chicago, which closed within two games of idle Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We knew it was a big game," Deng said. "We know we're chasing them (Nets). We didn't want them to get away. It was a really big game and everyone showed up for it."
Vince Carter poured in 22 points to pace the Nets, who had a two-game winning streak broken. Richard Jefferson netted 21 and Marcus Williams donated 16 off the bench for New Jersey, which fell one game behind Atlanta in the race for the final spot in the conference.
The Nets host the Hawks on Wednesday.
"We just did not play very well all night," New Jersey center Josh Boone said. "We gave them (Bulls) too many threes. Then, we just didn't get back in transition and cover with our defense. We changed our defense at halftime to zone. It worked well and that's when we made a run at them. But then in the fourth quarter they made a run back and took it (the game) away."
The Bulls held a 29-26 lead at the end of the first quarter, but blew the game open by outscoring the Nets 29-8 in the second frame. A Hughes layup made it 42-32 and Thabo Sefolosha's three-pointer stretched the margin to 51-34 with 2:08 remaining. Chicago carried a 58-34 advantage into halftime after Gooden sank a pair of free throws in the dying seconds of the quarter.
New Jersey battled back in the third quarter, as Carter hit a running layup to cut the deficit to 67-56 with 4:54 left. The Bulls headed into the fourth quarter up 79-68.
Chicago's lead shrunk to 79-70 after Jefferson converted 1-of-2 from the foul line early in the final stanza, but the Bulls countered with a 15-2 run, capped by Gordon's three-pointer to put the game out of reach.
New Jersey has lost eight straight on the road...The Nets won the season series, posting a 2-1 record...The Bulls donned special green jerseys in celebration of St. Patrick's Day...New Jersey point guard Devin Harris sustained a sprained right ankle in the second quarter and did not return...Kirk Hinrich had 14 points and eight assists for the Bulls...Chicago shot 49.4 percent from the field, including 11-of-17 from beyond the arc...New Jersey made 45.6 percent of its shots...Chicago hosts San Antonio on Thursday.
03/19 00:51:31 ET