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