Deng, Bulls Charge Past Pierce, Celtics
Chicago 106, Boston 102
BOSTON, Dec. 2 (Ticker) -- Luol Deng helped the Chicago Bulls overcome a cold third quarter and a red-hot Paul Pierce.
Deng scored 10 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls posted a 106-102 victory over the Boston Celtics, who got a season-best 43 points from Pierce.
Chicago shot 61 percent (14-of-23) from the field in the first quarter and held a 54-38 lead with 2:30 left in the half before Boston bridged the halves with a 24-7 spurt, capped by Kendrick Perkins' layup midway through the third quarter that put the Celtics in front 62-61.
The Bulls scored just 15 points in the quarter, when they were nearly outscored by Pierce. The All-Star swingman contributed 12 and two assists in the session, setting up Mark Blount's jumper with 17 seconds left that gave the Celtics a 75-71 edge entering the fourth period.
Pierce added a pair of free throws that made it 84-77 four minutes into the final quarter and Boston still held a 93-89 advantage with 4:10 remaining before Chicago took control with an 11-2 run.
Deng hit a jumper from the right wing and Kirk Hinrich followed with a pair of free throws that tied the score at 93-93 with 3:30 to play.
Ben Gordon took advantage of a defensive breakdown by the Celtics for a dunk and Deng nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 98-93 lead with just under two minutes left.
"I told the guys that we play hard enough to win, but we don't play smart enough to win," said Pierce, who made 12-of-21 shots and also grabbed 11 rebounds. "In the most crucial parts of the game where we need guys to really be on their man, that's when we make our mistakes."
After Pierce's layup, Tyson Chandler capped the burst with a pair of free throws that gave the Bulls a 100-95 lead with 1:21 to go.
Pierce scored five points down the stretch, twice cutting the deficit to two, but Deng and Chris Duhon combined to make 6-of-6 free throws to seal the victory.
"When I stepped to the line, I didn't think I was going to miss," said Deng, who made all eight of his free throws. "I was confident because I had hit earlier so I just stepped to the line and took them."
Gordon scored 20 points, Andres Nocioni added 16 and Chandler chipped in 10 and 16 rebounds for Chicago, which has won five of its last six games.
Behind the efforts of Deng and Gordon, the Bulls held a 56-22 advantage in bench points. "That's something that's been a strength of ours last year and over the course of this season," Gordon said. "We're best when we have guys come off the bench and contribute that way."
Blount scored 14 points off the bench for the Celtics, who were outrebounded 47-34 and committed 20 turnovers.
"It's a tough loss," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who was ejected with 5:32 left in the second quarter after picking up consecutive technical fouls. "It's as tough as there has been, as far as I'm concerned, this year."