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Bulls' explosive overtime holds off Suns

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- After blowing an 18-point, third-quarter lead and being forced to overtime by the scrappy reserves of the Phoenix Suns, Chicago's veterans knew that the tone for this five-game road trip might be set by the way the Bulls performed in overtime here Friday night.

Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah combined to erase a dismal fourth quarter by combining to score on Chicago's first five possessions, as the Bulls regained control of the game and rolled to a 112-106 win.

Carlos Boozer snapped out of an early-season scoring slump to register a game-high 28 points, while Deng and Noah had 21 each and Hamilton had four of his 15 on back-to-back jumpers as part of a 10-1 run over the first 3:37 of the extra period.

"In overtime, it's all about possessions. You only get six or eight possessions in overtime and you have to concentrate on each one to make sure you get a stop and get a score," Hamilton said. "We let our defense slip when we had a big lead, and we wanted to get back to basics in the overtime and got a win."

The Bulls had only four baskets in the fourth quarter when they were outscored 31-17 and forced to extra time. But Deng got Chicago off to a good start with an 18-footer 58 seconds in and the Bulls had a nine-point lead before Phoenix found the basket.

"The ball came in a good rhythm and I wanted to be more aggressive," Deng said. "They kept rotating on defense, but we made the right plays in overtime. We lost our (composure) a little bit when they made their run, but we have a lot of veterans on this team and we did a good job in overtime of being calm and letting the game come to us."

Luis Scola had 24 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out early in overtime and Sebastian Telfair added 17 off the bench including three 3-pointers for the Suns, who rallied from 26 points down to beat Cleveland here five days ago but couldn't make it all the way back this time.

"We can't keep digging ourselves a hole. When you're down 18 points in the second half you put yourself in a 'perfect storm' situation," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "We can get back, but to get all the way back and over the hump is almost impossible. But I love the fact that this team doesn't give up."

Boozer, who came into the game averaging 11.3 points on 41 percent shooting, had 16 in the first half and finished 11 of 20 from the field to go with 14 rebounds and three assists.

"His career shows that in the end you know where his offense will end up," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of Boozer. "He started very aggressively and I thought he played well throughout."

The Bulls led 57-51 at the half and their defense took over the game in the third quarter, suffocating the Suns and forcing them into a 2-for-13 shooting start while stretching out their lead. Deng followed his three-point play with a 3-point jumper and Boozer capped a 20-4 run with a layup to give Chicago their 18-point lead with 3:04 left and they carried a 83-69 advantage to the fourth quarter.

Michael Beasley missed 11 of his first 13 shots and was once again on the bench when the Suns made a rally to win at home. Goran Dragic had 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter and also watched as Telfair, Scola, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris and Shannon Brown brought the Suns back with fourth-quarter energy.

Telfair hit a pair of 3-pointers -- one after Deng hit a deflating, off-balance 25-footer to beat the shot clock -- and Scola inched the Suns within 88-81 on a layup with 7:55 left. The Suns kept coming and tied the game twice, the last time PJ Tucker's three-footer with 9.4 seconds to even the score at 100.

Hamilton had a chance to win it for the Bulls but had his shot blocked by Brown and both teams went to overtime for the first time this year -- and for the Suns, the first time since April 11 of 2011 (75 games).

But the overtime was dominated by the Bulls. Morris went out with a hip injury late in the fourth quarter and Scola fouled out 40 seconds into overtime, and they were out of gas.

"If we put ourselves in that situation and get down 19 and 20 points every game, it's very difficult to win," Scola said. "You're going to come back every once in a while, but you're going to lose most of those games. And it's been happening to us every game of the season."

NOTES: The Bulls welcomed guard Kirk Hinrich back to the starting lineup after missing one game with a strained right hip. ... Brown put up 115 points off the bench in the first eight games of the season, the most since Tony Delk had the same number over the first eight games of the 2001-02 season. His numbers are better than Eddie Johnson (1989-90), Rodney Rogers (1999-00) and Lenadro Barbosa (2006-07) in the years each won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. ... The Suns had 19 assists and only one turnover over the final 26-plus minutes of Monday's win over Denver. They are averaging 13.1 turnovers a game, third-best in the league entering Wednesday. ... Including three of their five wins to start this year, the Bulls are 34-2 over the last two seasons when holding an opponent under 90 points.
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