CHICAGO, April 2 (Ticker) -- With a pair of young stars unable to make a contribution, the Chicago Bulls turned to veterans Othella Harrington and Eric Piatkowski for a ninth straight win.

Harrington scored 22 points and Piatkowski added 19 as the Bulls pulled away for a 112-97 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

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The victory pulled Chicago within one-half game of the fourth-place Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference and extended its longest winning streak since a 13-game run in March 1998, the club's last championship season.

"This is something special," Piatkowski said. "I hope the young guys appreciate it. Nine-game win streaks don't come along all the time in this league."

The Bulls (41-31) are guaranteed of finishing with a .500 mark or better for the first time since that title run.

"We have had a turnaround of 19 games in one season," said Chicago coach Scott Skiles, whose team began the season 0-9. "That is impressive for our guys to pull off. I am proud of them."

The Bulls' leading scorer, Eddy Curry, remains in an area hospital undergoing a series of tests to determine the severity of an irregular heartbeat. Rookie Luol Deng also was absent with a sprained right wrist and fellow first-year standout Ben Gordon played limited minutes amid foul trouble.

Making his 20th start this season, Harrington provided a big boost with 12 points in the first half, helping the Bulls take a 57-52 lead into the break.

The Bobcats hung around until Harrington and Piatkowski teamed up to start the decisive run in the fourth quarter.

With Chicago ahead, 84-80, with less than 10 minutes left, Harrington scored four points and Piatkowski buried a 3-pointer to highlight a 10-0 run that was capped by Gordon's only basket.

The tandem of Harrington and Piatkowski showcased the Bulls' ability to fill holes and stay on the winning track.

"I think the credit goes to coach Skiles for finding the right combination of guys who were going to step up and play some defense and rebound the basketball, then execute on offense," Bulls forward Antonio Davis said.

Always looking for improvement, Skiles focused on some negatives, including a strong surge by Charlotte in the first half.

"We did not have our 'A' game," Skiles said. "That was obvious after their 22-7 run, but we got out of here with a win."

"It feels great to win, and hopefully we can keep this streak going," Harrington said.

Rookie Chris Duhon scored a season-high 17 points and Tyson Chandler had 12 and 15 rebounds. Chandler's dunk in the closing moments gave the Bulls their largest lead, 110-92.

"It shows when we are faced with a little adversity we have guys who can step it up and get a win," said Duhon, who scored in double figures just once in March.

Rookie Emeka Okafor scored 28 points and Matt Carroll added a career-high 20 for Charlotte, which lost all four meetings with Chicago this season.

"I got off to a fast start, and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball," Okafor said. "I just seemed to have the magic touch so I went with it."

Okafor, who is locked in a struggle with Gordon for Rookie of the Year, is averaging 28.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in his last two games.