Luol Deng loves nothing more than seeing Michael Jordan at courtside, particularly on nights like this.
CHICAGO (AP) — Luol Deng loves nothing more than seeing Michael Jordan at courtside, particularly on nights like this.
Deng scored 24 points, Derrick Rose had 18 points and 13 assists after a slow start, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Charlotte Bobcats 106-94 on Tuesday night for their ninth win in 11 games.
In a game of momentum swings, the Bulls needed a strong finish to pull this one out and put away a team that blew out the Lakers the previous night. Chicago scored 10 of the first 12 points in the fourth quarter to take control on a night when Jordan, the Bobcats’ owner, and Scottie Pippen sat next to each other at courtside.
"It’s great just seeing Michael and Scottie sitting there," Deng said. "It’s been great all year seeing Scottie. We all look up to Scottie. He’s been at practice (as a team ambassador). It was good to also see Michael."
Deng hit 10 of 19 shots. Rose, who outscored Deron Williams and Chris Paul by a combined 52-26 in wins at Utah and New Orleans, shot just 5 of 14 but came up big down the stretch.
Carlos Boozer added 16 points and nine rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 15, hitting all five shots and three 3-pointers — one of which made it 99-86 with just under 3 minutes left.
"You can’t leave him open," the Bobcats’ Stephen Jackson said. "Everybody knows he can’t do anything else but shoot."
Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 22 points. Jackson added 20, Boris Diaw added 18, but the Bobcats came up short trying to take down their second division leader in as many nights.
Even so, that probably won’t stop them from removing the interim tag from coach Paul Silas’ title. General manager Rod Higgins told the Associated Press they’re discussing a one-year extension, and the way this team’s playing, it’s not hard to see why.
The Bobcats are 15-13 under Silas and have jumped into playoff contention after a 9-19 start under Larry Brown. They just couldn’t pull this one out after beating the Bulls twice last month.
"My starting guys just didn’t have it tonight," Silas said.
With a 78-73 lead, Taj Gibson hit two free throws to start the fourth quarter and Rose added two more after a dunk by Henderson. A dunk by Gibson, a driving finger-roll layup by Deng and a short jumper by Omer Asik made it 88-75 with 8:16 remaining, and the Bulls stayed in control from there.
For much of the night, though, the teams battled back and forth.
The Bulls saw an 11-point lead in the second quarter disintegrate into a 43-42 deficit before they scored 10 of 12 to close out the half and go up 52-45.
In the third quarter, it was more of the same.
The Bobcats tied it at 57 on a layup by Gerald Wallace.
Rose finally got going after scoring five in the first half, starting a 10-2 run with a neat up-and-under layup for a three-point play and freezing Shaun Livingston with a crossover on a drive. He also hit two free throws before Keith Bogans nailed a 3 to make it 69-59 with 3:50 left, but the Bobcats kept coming back.
They scored seven straight late in the quarter to pull within 76-73 before Deng buried a 15-footer with 3 seconds left, and the Bulls then took control in the fourth.
"Guys are extremely confident," Boozer said. "If you’re in the NBA, you can play. … We’re a team — not just one guy, two guys, three guys; we’re a group of guys. Everybody on this team, whether you’re starting or off the bench, can play in the NBA and play well."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)