Bulls 86, Bobcats 81

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Forward Luol Deng scored 21 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds left, to help the Chicago Bulls hold off the Charlotte Bobcats 86-81 Monday at the United Center.
The Bulls held a one-point lead when point guard Derrick Rose found his path to the rim blocked by several Bobcats. He jumped and fired a cross-court pass to Deng, who drained a long shot near the top of the key to give Chicago an 85-81 lead.
Guard Jimmy Butler added 14 points for the Bulls, who won their fifth consecutive game. Forward Carlos Boozer added 12 points and 17 rebounds, while Rose scored 12 and had five assists.
The Bulls (6-3) started the fourth quarter with a 62-59 edge, but they could never pull away from the pesky Bobcats (5-6). A pair of Boozer free throws gave Chicago a bit of breathing room at 72-66 with 4:54 left, but Charlotte guard Gerald Henderson came back with a 3-pointer on the other end.
A few minutes later, guard Jeff Taylor and Henderson knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive trips to bring Charlotte within 80-79 with 1:27 remaining.
Rose responded with two driving baskets. The second, a clean burst through the lane for a lay-in, made it 82-79 with 1:07 left. Henderson drew a foul by going to the basket hard, and his free throws again cut the margin to a point.
After Deng's basket, a Henderson jumper fell short of the rim and Rose split a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game. After Bobcats guard Kemba Walker missed a 3-point attempt, the Bulls ran out the clock.
The Bulls went 26-for-31 at the foul line, compared to 8-for-16 by Charlotte.
Taylor led the Bobcats with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Henderson scored 16, and Josh McRoberts added 11.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford took plenty of coaching advice from the Bulls' Tom Thibodeau over the years, so it was no wonder the game turned into an ugly, defensive-minded struggle.
Both teams shot 36 percent from the field. Chicago went nearly 11 minutes in the second half without a field goal, scoring 14 consecutive points at the foul line.
The Bobcats made it a game by closing the first half with a 17-4 run to take a 44-40 edge at the break. The Bulls finished the second quarter by going 1-for-10 from the field.
NOTES: Charlotte coach Steve Clifford considers Tom Thibodeau a mentor. Thibodeau was on the New York coaching staff under Jeff Van Gundy when Clifford landed his first NBA job as the Knicks' advance scout in 2000. ... Charlotte assistant Patrick Ewing, on getting a head-coaching job: "Thibs waited 20-something years. I'm not waiting that long." ... Bobcats F Al Jefferson missed his third straight game and eighth of the season with an ankle injury. ... Chicago has an average victory margin of 15.2 points during its five-game winning streak. ... The Bulls played their last home game until Dec. 2. Their annual circus road trip begins Thursday.

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