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That's the headline on one of Mike's stories in the Herald:


http://www.dailyherald.com/sports/sportsstory.asp?id=176785

The Bulls have taken plenty of hard hits to the gut this season. It’s not a pleasant experience, but once backed into a corner, they usually bounce back with some fight.

The latest example was on display Tuesday night at the United Center. After falling meekly to playoff rival Philadelphia on Saturday, the Bulls responded by taking down the NBA’s hottest team — while missing two starters.

Ben Gordon scored 21 of his 36 points in the final 6:03 of the fourth quarter to lead the Bulls to a clutch 104-101 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

“This is the NBA,” Gordon said. “Some nights teams are going to get blown out even when you think you’re out there giving it your best effort. We just have to avoid any more of those games we had against Philly and play like we did tonight.”
Vince Carter scored 43 points to lead New Jersey but hit just 7 of 19 field goals after a hot first quarter that featured four 3-point baskets. Carter banked in a half-court shot at the final buzzer.

Skiles pointed to the fact that New Jersey was credited for only 9 fastbreak points, usually its best weapon. Point guard Jason Kidd had 4 points and 5 assists, while hitting 1 of 9 shots.

“You could tell right away that we were into this game,” Skiles added. “In general, their effort was exceptional tonight.”
His second story:

Deng, Duhon hope rest makes difference

Luol Deng was literally sucking on lemons in the locker room before Tuesday’s game against New Jersey. He was told that eating fruit would help relieve symptoms of the mild concussion that kept him sidelined for a second straight game.

Point guard Chris Duhon joined Deng in street clothes. Duhon had been skipping most practices because of a chronically sore back but hadn’t missed a game since March 15 at Milwaukee.

Theoretically, it wasn’t a bad gamble for Deng and Duhon to skip the game against red-hot New Jersey if it meant they’d be ready to play tonight at Atlanta. But, of course, the Bulls may not know until game time whether either player is fit to face the Hawks.

“I guess it would seem a little bit odd to me that 24 hours would make that big a difference,” coach Scott Skiles said. “But it could also. We’ll just take it as it comes and when he’s ready to go, he’ll go.”

Deng had an MRI exam Monday that revealed nothing unexpected. He said he was struggling with bright lights and still feeling dizzy when he stood up quickly.

When questioned before the game, Skiles repeatedly tried to downplay the injuries.

“I can’t let the other guys on the team see me come unglued because one guy is hurt,” Skiles said. “You feel bad for him, but it’s part of the business.”
Bulls regain upper hand

That sums things up for Hanley's story:

Good thing it was the seldom-used Eddie Basden and not Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich or Andres Nocioni whose name mistakenly ended up on the Bulls' inactive list Tuesday.

Those three players led the injury-riddled Bulls in their 104-101 win over the New Jersey Nets, as hot a team as there is in the NBA, having won 15 of their last 17 games.

Gordon scored 21 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. Hinrich had 22 points and nine assists. Nocioni notched his seventh consecutive double-double with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, 16 of those on defense.

The Bulls -- who were without two starters in guard Chris Duhon (back) and forward Luol Deng (concussion), as well as 6-7 reserve swingman Eric Piatkowski (concussion) -- reclaimed the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with the win. By way of their better conference record, they hold the tiebreaker over the Philadelphia 76ers, who also are 36-41 overall.

Both teams have five regular-season games remaining. The Bulls play tonight at Atlanta, and the Sixers are at New Jersey, which was hurt by Jason Kidd's 1-for-9 shooting.

"Jay missed some shots early in the game that he's been making,'' coach Scott Skiles said. "I don't think we should take credit for that. The thing was we kept him out of transition. He's one of the best who's ever played the game, a certain Hall of Famer. From end to end, you get him out there in transition, it's deadly. We did a nice job, except for a couple of occasions, of scrambling back.''
And on to the Tribune and Garcia:

Gordon scorches Nets

It wasn't enough for Ben Gordon to show up Jason Kidd by launching a three-pointer in Kidd's face without a trace of fear.

Gordon went a step further Tuesday night with a thrilling drive past Nets 7-footers Jason Collins and Nenad Krstic in the fourth quarter of the Bulls' 104-101 victory before a crowd of 20,402 at the United Center.

Gordon dazzled with 36 points and saved his best for the final quarter, when he scored 21.

He was 19-for-21 from the free-throw line, where the Bulls outscored the Nets 33-23.

Once again, the Bulls and 76ers are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls have five games left and visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

With Luol Deng on the bench because he still is groggy from a concussion he suffered Saturday, and Chris Duhon next to him because of lower back pain associated with a disc injury, the Bulls were in a precarious state.

What a perfect time to knock down the hottest team in the NBA.

"Sometimes when you're short-handed, other people show up," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.

The fourth quarter belonged to Gordon, but Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni did most of the legwork early.
And Ladewski in the Daily Southtown:

Bulls have all the answers - and playoff shot looks better

There may be one week left in the NBA regular season, but as far as the Bulls are concerned, the playoffs have already started.
After the Bulls cut down the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on Tuesday night, 104-101, their season amounts to a best-of-5 series against the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, all of whom are in the hunt for the final three playoff berths.

"We're not in (the playoffs) until the last five games are over and we see how it turns out," said guard Ben Gordon, who came to the rescue with 36 points, which included 19 free throws in 21 attempts. "So we'll approach every game like it's a playoff game."

While the victory left the Bulls and 76ers with identical 36-41 records, the Bulls moved back into the No. 8 position for all intents and purposes. In the event of a tie with Philadelphia, they would get the nod because of a better Eastern Conference record.
After Gordon used the glass to give the Bulls a 90-84 advantage, Nets guard Vince Carter asked him whether he had called the shot.

Well?

"Nah," smiled Gordon, who erupted for 21 points in the final quarter.

Nocioni continued his solid play with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, his seventh double-double in a row.

The streak of double-doubles is the most by a Bulls player since forward Elton Brand had nine in the 2000-01 season.

"I don't know," Nocioni shrugged when asked how much longer he could continue the pace. "I don't know what will happen.

"I try to play the best that I can, you know? Because there are too many (teams) in the Eastern (playoff race), and it's a big problem for us."
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
A story from New Jersey:

Nets appear to barely care about this one

CHICAGO -- Whether they actually care anymore about the balance of the schedule is subject to interpretation, but if the Nets were honest with themselves, they might admit that they did all the things done by disinterested teams playing out a stretch of meaningless games last night.

They settled for jumpers, until it was too late. They flubbed nine foul shots -- five in the fourth period -- until bearing down and realizing they might come in handy. Their defense on the ball and the help in the lane were generally poor for three quarters. They sent Chicago to the line 19 times in the fourth, and 44 times overall. They took one foul shot in the first 20 minutes against a team that yields a league-high 30 free-throw attempts per game.
Afterward, they danced around the finer details, and the closest they came to admitting that their approach was injudicious was a remark from Vince Carter, whose 43 points (12-for-27) were a tacit tribute to fool's gold, as he went 2-for-9 from downtown over the last three quarters.

"We just wanted to match their intensity and energy," he said of the desperate Bulls, who pulled even with Sixers for eighth place in the East. "We did that late in the game, but it was a little too late."

"We wanted to win," Cliff Robinson said. "But at times, we tried to take too much on our shoulders independently, instead of playing like we have been playing on the offensive end."

One example: The Nets had just 17 assists on 34 field goals
.


And the New York Times:

With a Lot More to Lose, Gordon and Bulls Don't

While the Bulls entered the night a half-game behind the 76ers for the final playoff spot in the East, the Nets were playing for milestones less significant. They entered the evening two and a half games behind the Heat for the No. 2 seeding, but Miami defeated the Toronto Raptors, dropping the Nets another game back. The Nets had a shot to win a franchise-record 53 games, but the best they can do now is tie the current mark of 52.

The Nets did not appear nearly as aggressive as the Bulls until the game was just about out of reach. Point guard Jason Kidd was held to 4 points and 5 assists, and the Nets reached the free-throw line just once in the game's first 20 minutes.

The Bulls outscored the Nets, 28-22, in the paint and made 10 more free throws than the Nets; Chicago was 33 of 44 from the line.

"They just got to the free-throw line a lot for a team that doesn't usually," Nets Coach Lawrence Frank said. "They were in a desperate state and played hard. We played hard also, but missed some things defensively."

The Bulls probably hope that the Nets can find added motivation on Wednesday night, when they play host to the Sixers. Carter insisted that motivation was not a problem.

"We're still playing for something," he said. "We need to come out and play to win. We're trying to peak at the right time and be there ready going into the playoffs."
 

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Talk to the hand.

What I saw last night was a glimpse of what the future could easily be.

After having a terrific Q1, Hinrich turned ice cold for the rest of the game. Skiles effectively took the ball out of Hinrich's hands and put it in Ben's.

Ben played PG almost the whole night. He received the inbounds pass and brought it up court. A lot of plays were isolation ones for him.

I realize he didn't rack up a gaudy assist total, but he was still responsible for his teammates' baskets. A good example is late in Q4, he must have scored 15 of the last 17 points by the Bulls. He gets the ball at the top of the key and drives. He's double teamed so he kicks it out to Kirk who makes a quick pass to Nocioni at the top of the key for a wide open 3. Good.

This is not a slap at Hinrich. He was a terrific teammate for Ben last night. Ben would bring the ball up the court and give up his dribble, pass to Kirk and Kirk would return it right away.

Only good things can happen when the ball STARTS in Ben's hands. That I've seen enough to be convinced of.
 

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DaBullz said:
Talk to the hand.

What I saw last night was a glimpse of what the future could easily be.

After having a terrific Q1, Hinrich turned ice cold for the rest of the game. Skiles effectively took the ball out of Hinrich's hands and put it in Ben's.

Ben played PG almost the whole night. He received the inbounds pass and brought it up court. A lot of plays were isolation ones for him.

I realize he didn't rack up a gaudy assist total, but he was still responsible for his teammates' baskets. A good example is late in Q4, he must have scored 15 of the last 17 points by the Bulls. He gets the ball at the top of the key and drives. He's double teamed so he kicks it out to Kirk who makes a quick pass to Nocioni at the top of the key for a wide open 3. Good.

This is not a slap at Hinrich. He was a terrific teammate for Ben last night. Ben would bring the ball up the court and give up his dribble, pass to Kirk and Kirk would return it right away.

Only good things can happen when the ball STARTS in Ben's hands. That I've seen enough to be convinced of.

well yeah, it sort of is, but i realize you are unable to contain it all the way. ben and kirk and nocioni were all terrific teammates for each other last night. kirk had nine assists. ben had one.

ben started out ice cold, for the record. 1-6 in the first half while kirk's 12 first quarter points set the tone and started the team off. his late game FT's also TIED up the game. then ben got them ahead and then did his patented 4th quarter thang.

so yeah, talk to the hand.






and yes, ben playing PG is certainly a better option than pargo! i would heartily agree with that.
 
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