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Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012

Bulls extend win streak to six games


ORLANDO, Florida — At times last season the Chicago Bulls were guilty of leaning on MVP point guard Derrick Rose too much to help them pull out wins in close games.

News photo
Blanket defense: Orlando's Dwight Howard drives on Chicago's Omer Asik in the first half on Friday night. The Bulls won 97-83. AP

If the way they closed out Friday night's 97-83 victory over Orlando is any indication, coach Tom Thibodeau's team is well on the way to fixing that problem.

Rose and Luol Deng each scored 21 points and Chicago held off a fourth-quarter surge by the Magic for its sixth straight victory.

Carlos Boozer added 20 points for the Bulls, who led by as many as 17 before the lead was trimmed to three. Chicago closed the game on a 17-6 run and hung on despite getting just four points from Rose in the final 12 minutes.

"Anything to win," Rose said. "That was the whole mind-set. Just try to get out aggressive. Try to get guys going early. That was the whole game plan."

Thibodeau said he liked the way Rose adjusted when the Magic tried to clamp down on him in the second half.

"He's got a quick array of shots and he knows what he has to do," Thibodeau said. "When he needed to score, he scored. He did a really great job of playmaking."

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Jason Richardson broke out of a scoring slump with 17. But Ryan Anderson, who Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said "just didn't get in the battle" against the Bulls and had been leading the team in scoring, went cold, along with the Magic's reserves.

Van Gundy said the Magic, who were playing their first playoff opponent from last season since their season-opening loss at Oklahoma City, aren't ready to compete with that caliber of team right now.

"Quite simply we're not at that level. Not close," he said. "And that's OK; I'm not saying that crying or complaining. That's just the way it is. . ."

The Bulls (7-1) are off to their best start since winning 12 of 13 to open the 1996-97 season. The latest victory began a brutal stretch for Chicago that includes seven games in nine nights.

Lakers 97, Warriors 90

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 26 of his 39 points in a dynamic second half, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the weary Lakers gritted out a victory over Golden State.

Matt Barnes had 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out for Los Angeles, which won its fifth straight home game while playing its NBA-high ninth game in 13 days.

Monta Ellis scored 18 points and David Lee had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.

Thunder 109, Rockets 94

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 26 points, top reserve James Harden added 23 and the Thunder eased into their only stretch of three games on consecutive nights by beating Houston.

Jazz 94, Grizzlies 85

In Salt Lake City, Al Jefferson had 20 points and nine rebounds and the Utah reserves outscored their Memphis counterparts by 30.

Hawks 102, Bobcats 96 (OT)

In Charlotte, Atlanta went to overtime for a second straight night, pulling out a victory over the Bobcats behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from Josh Smith.

Knicks 99, Wizards 96

In Washington, Carmelo Anthony made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds to play and scored 37 points as New York rallied to keep the Wizards winless.

Nets 97, Raptors 85

In Toronto, Deron Williams had 24 points and nine assists, Anthony Morrow also scored 24 and New Jersey snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Raptors.

76ers 96, Pistons 73

In Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Jodie Meeks scored 21 points and the Sixers beat Detroit.

Pacers 87, Celtics 74

In Boston, Danny Granger had 15 points and Roy Hibbert scored 11 with 12 rebounds to lead Indiana past the Celtics.

Cavaliers 98, Timberwolves 87

In Minneapolis, Antawn Jamison had 22 points and six rebounds to help Cleveland beat the hosts.

Suns 102, Trail Blazers 77

In Phoenix, Steve Nash made all seven shots, two of them 3-pointers, and handed out nine assists before sitting out the fourth quarter to watch the Suns complete a rout of Portland.

Nuggets 96, Hornets 88

In New Orleans, Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points and Denver went on a 19-0 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to beat the Hornets.

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