Sunday , Apr , 02 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Bulls inch closer to playoff spot with win over Boston

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Kirk Hinrich scored 25 points to lead the
Chicago Bulls to a 100-94 victory over the Boston Celtics at the United
Center.

Luol Deng, Mike Sweetney and Ben Gordon all chipped in with 14 points and
Andres Nocioni added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who have won two
straight and four of their last five games.

With the win, Chicago moved to within one game of the Philadelphia 76ers for
the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Wally Szczerbiak had a game-high 28 points and Paul Pierce added 18 points,
nine assists and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who have lost three of their
last four games.

“It was a tough one,” said Pierce. “We had our chances to win and just didn’t
execute and turned over the ball too much. They are just a tough team that
comes at you hard. Hinrich also made some tough shots toward the end.”

The loss pushed Boston back to four games out of the final playoff spot in the
East.

The game was even at 74-74 going into the final quarter.

The Celtics grabbed an 81-77 lead with 9:29 to play after four-straight points
by Szczerbiak. Hinrich hit two free throws to get the Bulls back to within
two, but the Celtics nailed the next five points to make it 86-79 after
Ryan Gomes put in a layup with 6:28 remaining.

Chicago, though, scored the next 12 points and Hinrich’s fadeaway jumper with
3:57 left gave his squad a 91-86 lead. Hinrich had six points during the
burst.

Pierce hit two free throws and a layup to make it a 91-90 game with 2:32 to
play. Deng then drained a jumper and Hinrich made 1-of-2 from the line to make
it 94-90.

Two Gomes free throws and a Pierce slam sandwiched two Nocioni free throws to
make it a 96-94 contest after Pierce’s basket with 34 seconds remaining.

Deng, however, hit two free throws and, after Pierce missed a jumper, Nocioni
hit two from the charity striped with 5.7 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“We’re just lucky to win this game,” said Deng. “We didn’t play too well
tonight but we didn’t give up, especially in the last seven minutes.”

The Celtics started out the game with a 10-1 run. The Bulls closed to within
14-10 after Sweetney’s layup with 6:27 left in the first. But the Celtics
pulled away and took a 28-19 lead into the second quarter.

Boston led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. Chicago got back to
within three, 50-47, after Gordon put in two free throws. But, Boston scored
the last five points to take a 55-47 lead into the locker room.

Chicago continued to keep things close in the third quarter, but was down by
nine points, 71-62, after Raef LaFrentz slammed the ball home to cap an 8-2
Boston run with 4:47 left in the third. But Chicago closed out the quarter
with a 12-3 run and Gordon’s trey with 0.6 seconds left tied the game up at
74-74 heading into the final quarter.

Game Notes

The Bulls host Indiana on Tuesday…The Celtics travel to Toronto for a game
on Tuesday…Gomes finished with seven points and eight rebounds and LaFrentz
finished with eight points…Chicago had a slight edge on the boards,
45-44…Boston hit 42.2 percent of its shots and Chicago made 38.2 percent.

BOS CHI