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Brian Hanley in the Sun-Times:

Where better than Tobacco Road for the Bulls to come out smoking Friday?

But this being coach Scott Skiles often-schizo squad, even the basketball clinic the Bulls gave the Charlotte Bobcats in the first half hardly meant they ever could exhale until the final few seconds of their 113-107 victory.

The Bulls followed what was a 67-point first half -- the team's best offensive output of an opening two quarters of the season --with a 16-point third quarter that allowed the Bobcats back into the game, which wasn't decided until the final minute.

That made it interesting,'' Skiles said. "They came out in the third quarter and started getting after us, and we didn't handle that really well. But we were able to make our free throws and take care of the ball well enough to get the win".
Skiles said he hopes to implement more sets in which he uses both Chandler and Sweetney simultaneously through the final 10 games. That was something he had little chance to do after halftime Friday.

"Mike did a good job in the first half going down low and being able to get some things for us,'' Skiles said. "But there were times in the second half when [Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff] had five guards out there. It's very difficult for big guys to play that kind of game.''
The rest at: http://www.suntimes.com/output/bulls/cst-spt-bull011.html

Mike Mcgraw's story:

Bulls hold on after building 26-point lead

Fortunately for the Bulls, Charlotte never got closer than 8 points until the final minute. Gerald Wallace (26 points) scored on a long alley-oop pass, was fouled and missed the free throw, but teammate Bernard Robinson Jr. followed in the rebound to make it 108-103 with 33.6 seconds remaining. Deng and Ben Gordon responded with 2 free throws each to close it out.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats were within 9 points when Duhon made a steal, then followed it up with back-to-back 3-point baskets to stretch the Bulls’ lead to 101-87 with 3:52 left.

“The alarm clock didn’t go off until the second half,” said Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff. “We didn’t match their intensity on defense. We got hung up on fools’ gold. Jump shots were going in, but we didn’t stop anybody. The deficit was too much to overcome.”

Until Duhon heated up, the Bulls’ guards struggled. Gordon hit 3 of 15 shots for 8 points, while Kirk Hinrich went 4-for-13 from the field for 11 points.

The Bulls had all kinds of trouble against Charlotte this season, finishing the series with a 2-2 record.

“They’re athletic enough, when they decide to really get after you, you’ve got to be really skilled with the ball, you’ve got to be sharp with your spacing, you’ve got to use your ball fakes,” Skiles said. “It’s something we’re still working on.”

The Bulls trailed 21-17 midway through the first quarter. Skiles called a timeout and his team immediately went on a 14-0 run.

I just sprinkled the magic dust on them and they took off,” Skiles said. “I don’t remember what I said.”
And it's back to Sam today in the Tribune:

Bulls holding steady

CHARLOTTE -- Now the Bulls have the playoff tiebreaker over the Charlotte Bobcats if they need it.

Hey, at this time of the season, you take anything you can get.

The Bulls took advantage of the Bobcats taking the first half off Friday night. They built a 26-point lead just after halftime and held on for a 113-107 victory.

"We played very well in the first half, they played very well in the second," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We were fortunate enough to have a big lead."

The Bobcats, who had beaten the Bulls two of three times this season, spent the first half launching jump shots and admiring the way the Bulls retrieved them, ran down court and scored.

The display of teamwork and effort was as impressive as any the Bulls have shown all season. It resulted in a 67-43 halftime lead on the strength of 30 field goals off 20 assists and a 61.2 shooting percent. Much of their precision shooting was inside; they outscored the Bobcats 44-14 in the lane in the half.

"I didn't feel like they were into it in the first half," Skiles said of the Bobcats.

Charlotte used a lineup primarily of guards in the second half to get the Bulls' lead below 10 points late in the third quarter and several times midway in the fourth. But the Bulls repeatedly got big baskets and plays from Andres Nocioni and two three-pointers from Chris Duhon to avoid another meltdown.

"I played a good game," said Nocioni, who had his second consecutive game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. "But I am so happy because the team won. This is the most important thing to get to the playoffs."
 
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