Bulls Close Trip With Win Over Clippers
Chicago 97, L.A. Clippers 91
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12 (Ticker) -- The Chicago Bulls turned to Jannero Pargo early and Kirk Hinrich late to end a difficult road trip in fine fashion.
Pargo scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half and Hinrich had 10 in the final seven-plus minutes as the Bulls posted a 97-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I think Chicago just outplayed us tonight," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. "They played better than we did. Whatever their record is doesn't matter to me. I don't think they're very far from having an excellent team in the East."
The little-used Pargo reached double figures for just the sixth time this season by intermission and scored the Bulls' final four points of the third quarter to give them a 76-67 lead entering the last period.
Their advantage was down to 81-77 when Hinrich scored with 7:24 left to start his personal run. The Clippers remained within four at 87-83 before Hinrich had three straight driving layups in less than a minute to make it 93-85.
"My jump shot wasn't falling," said Hinrich, who shot 7-of-20. "Every one looked like it was going in. I wanted to still stay aggressive. Finally I was able to to make some and help the team."
Chicago committed a turnover and missed three shots to allow Los Angeles to cut its deficit to 93-91 on former Bull Elton Brand's follow layup with 26 seconds to go. However, after winding the clock down, Hinrich was fouled with nine seconds left and made it a four-point advantage by sinking both free throws.
An 84-percent foul shooter, Hinrich had yet to shoot a free throw in the game before doing his part to close the door.
"I just kept milking (the clock)," Hinrich said of his play leading to the free throws. "Someone has to step up down the stretch. I was just able to step up and make plays."
After a missed 3-pointer by Sam Cassell, Andres Nocioni made two more from the line to seal just the Bulls' second win in their last 11 meetings with the Clippers.
"That's the way we want to play night in and night out," Pargo said. "We got the ball inside and were able to play inside-out and did a good job of that tonight."
Luol Deng (14 points) and Darius Songaila (12) were two of six players to score in double figures for Chicago.
Brand led Los Angeles with 29 points and 15 rebounds. His teammates combined to shoot 37 percent (24-of-65) from the floor and made just 1-of-14 (7 percent) of their 3-pointers.
"Our defense won the game for us tonight," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "I know Elton (Brand) had big numbers, as he has all year, but we did a nice job of swarming the paint and picking up loose balls and that really got us going."
Chicago held a 46-36 advantage in points in the paint. "They had guys all over the place on defense," Brand said. "And they hustled and really played hard. We knew that coming in. Their record might not show it but they are one point a game away from a very good record."
The critical run of the game came to end the first half. Shaun Livingston scored on a layup with 1:29 left before halftime to give the Clippers a 50-41 lead before the Bulls ended the stanza in a flurry.
After two free throws by Deng, Pargo and Nocioni both had three-point plays and Pargo buried a 15-footer with three seconds left to cap the 10-0 burst and put Chicago ahead to stay.
"Right before half they had us by nine and had us on the ropes, but we came out with the lead," Skiles said. "I thought Jannero came up big for us tonight, but we were all there from beginning to end, battling for the win."