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Monday, Dec. 28, 2009

Fit-again Thomas helps Bulls to win

CHICAGO (AP) After watching helplessly the previous 22 games — 15 of which his Bulls lost, many in gut-wrenching fashion — Tyrus Thomas was thrilled to be back on the court, helping Chicago build and protect a lead.

News photo
Rolling thunder: Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant takes a shot in front of Bobcats guard Raymond Felton during their game on Saturday in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won 98-91. AP PHOTO

Thomas had 21 points on 10 for 17 shooting, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in a 96-85 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

"It felt like the first day of school all day," said Thomas, who had been out since Nov. 6 with a broken left forearm. "I had a new backpack, supplies, everything. It was great."

The game capped a wild week in which the Bulls lost to Sacramento after blowing a 35-point lead, lost at New York after almost rallying from a 22-point deficit and dealt with questions about coach Vinny Del Negro's job security.

"You have to learn from your mistakes but stay positive," said Joakim Noah, who had 17 points and 18 rebounds as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 54-16 inside. "It just feels good right now to get a 'W' — and to win by a big margin, which we hadn't done in a long time."

After Thomas and Noah sparked a 42-13 surge that turned an 11-point, second-quarter deficit into a 73-55 lead late in the third, Del Negro played Thomas for the entire fourth period.

The athletic, fourth-season forward, who has been in and out of Del Negro's doghouse during the last year, responded with six points, two rebounds and boundless energy as the Bulls held on.

"He got a little winded but . . . it was tough to take him out because he was so productive," the coach said. "You saw what his athleticism does for us."

The previous seven weeks, Thomas saw a promising season turn bad, as the Bulls absorbed numerous lopsided losses and late meltdowns.

"It's hard to sit and watch," he said, "especially when your team's struggling."

Rockets 98, Nets 93

In East Rutherford, N.J., reserve Carl Landry scored 26 points to lead the Rockets to a victory over New Jersey, sending the Nets to their ninth straight loss.

Hawks 110, Pacers 98

In Indianapolis, Al Horford had 25 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, leading the Hawks past the Pacers.

Mavericks 106, Grizzlies 101

In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points over the first three quarters, then saw his teammates take control in the fourth to carry the Mavericks to a victory over the Grizzlies.

Timberwolves 101, Wizards 89

In Minneapolis, Corey Brewer scored 23 of his career-high 27 points in the second half to lead the Timberwolves to a victory over the Wizards.

Thunder 98, Bobcats 91

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 30 points, Russell Westbrook had 22 and the Thunder held off the Bobcats.

Spurs 112, Bucks 97

In Milwaukee, Tim Duncan scored 26 points and the Spurs never trailed in a victory over the Bucks.

Jazz 97, 76ers 76

In Salt Lake City, Deron Williams scored 27 points, Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the Jazz returned home to beat the struggling 76ers.

Lakers 112, Kings 103 (2OT)

In Sacramento, Kobe Bryant scored 38 points and the Lakers bounced back from a humbling Christmas Day loss to Cleveland by beating the Kings.

Warriors 132, Suns 127

In Oakland, Calif., Corey Maggette scored a season-high 33 points and had eight rebounds, Monta Ellis added 33 points and 10 assists and the Warriors beat the Suns and end a seven-game skid.

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