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Bulls overcome slow start to top Nets 113-104
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Nets' Devin Harris, right, battles the Bulls' Derrick Rose for the ball during the first quarter.

 

Associated Press

Joakim Noah\ left, battles New Jersey Nets' Yi Jianlian, of China, for the ball.

 

Associated Press

New Jersey's Devin Harris, left, goes up for a shot against Bulls' Aaron Gray.

 

Associated Press

Vinny Del Negro celebrates with Ben Gordon (29 points) in the final seconds of the Bulls' victory over New Jersey.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 12/13/2008 10:21 PM | Updated: 12/13/2008 11:38 PM

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Baton Rouge, La., received 4 inches of snow this week, something that hasn't happened in 20 years, according to lifelong resident Tyrus Thomas.

Thomas, meanwhile, scored 16 points on Saturday against the New Jersey Nets, something that hasn't happened all season.

The Bulls are obviously hoping Thomas has another big game before Baton Rouge is once again buried in snow. His effort helped carry the Bulls to a 113-104 victory at the United Center.

Center Joakim Noah (8 rebounds, 7 points), another of the team's inconsistent young big men, also had a nice game. The two players combined to block 5 shots.

"They made plays that I couldn't even get to sometimes, so that's a big plus for our team," said Bulls forward Drew Gooden. "This league is tough. It's not easy to bring that type of energy every night. If you can, that makes you a great player and it makes your team better."

After watching how a first-quarter push got them nowhere at Memphis on Friday night, the Bulls (11-12) tried the reverse tactic. The early minutes against the Nets featured slow-moving Bulls defenders and jump shots that barely grazed iron.

New Jersey, meanwhile, sprinted to a 23-8 lead as though it had something to prove. Actually, the Nets had plenty to forget.

One night earlier, while being bombarded at home by Toronto 101-79, Vince Carter was an unsightly 0-for-13 from the field. Reserve guard Keyon Dooling wasn't much better, going 1-for-10 as the Nets shot a miserable 31.3 percent as a team.

The Bulls came alive late, however, scoring a season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 7-point deficit.

"I thought we played solid for about 45 minutes," said Nets guard Devin Harris. "Those last three minutes came down to execution and we didn't get enough points or enough stops."

Bulls guard Ben Gordon stayed hot for the whole game this time, finishing with 29 points and hitting 12 of 21 shots. He wore down Friday after scoring 18 points in the opening eight minutes at Memphis.

Rose (22 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds) more than held his own in a duel with the suddenly high-scoring Harris (22 points, 7 assists). Carter added to his long list of big games against the Bulls with 39 points.

The Bulls' reserves caught up in the second quarter, before New Jersey opened a 60-50 advantage at halftime when Carter drilled a half-court shot at the buzzer. The Nets led 82-75 when Dooling scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but finally the Bulls began to display a sense of urgency.

Gordon buried a 3-pointer to begin a 12-2 run, which was highlighted by a long alley-oop pass from Larry Hughes to Thomas.

A few minutes later, Carter knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Nets a 96-93 edge with 3:36 remaining, but the Bulls answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Rose and Gordon to take the lead.

With the Bulls up by 5, Harris took a light hit from Rose, spasmed his body and threw a shot over the backboard. But when he didn't get the foul call, Harris complained and earned a technical. The ensuing free throw stretched the Bulls' lead to 6 and the Nets were done.