Gordon, Chandler Lift Bulls Past Hornets
Chicago 96, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 82
CHICAGO, March 24 (Ticker) -- Chicago Bulls teammates Ben Gordon and Tyson Chandler appear motivated to make the playoffs.
Coming off the bench, Gordon scored 25 points and Chandler grabbed a season-high 21 rebounds as the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 96-82 victory over the Hornets.
Gordon and Chandler usually start but were brought off the bench by coach Scott Skiles. Both responded with solid games and were on the floor when the Bulls broke open a close game in the final period.
When asked if Chandler and Gordon had extra motivation coming in off the bench, Skiles said, "I would not put a lot of stock in that. Both Tyson and Ben did have good games, though. Sometimes when you come in off the bench, you get matchups you can take advantage of."
"Just a coincidence," Chandler said. "We just have to get wins, and it doesn't matter if I am starting or coming in off the bench. It was just my team needed my energy tonight."
A jumper by Gordon gave Chicago the lead for good at 75-73 with 8:18 to go. He added a free throw before a basket by David West pulled the Hornets within 76-75 with 7:11 left.
"We jumped out on them early and let them back in the game," West said. "We knew Gordon was their gun and we just let him get going."
Gordon responded with a 3-pointer to trigger a 16-5 run. Kirk Hinrich and Deng also sank shots from the arc and Chandler made a pair of free throws before Gordon's free throw made it 92-80 with 1:19 remaining.
"This was an important game us coming off a four-game losing streak," Gordon said. "Coach was just trying to change things up to get a winning streak going. This game was a like a playoff game for both teams."
During the pivotal run, P.J. Brown was the only player to score for the Hornets, who received their 10th loss in 11 games as their late-season collapse continued. Once sixth in the Western Conference, the Hornets (32-35) are ninth, 1 1/2 games behind Sacramento for the final playoff spot.
"We are not a very good team right now," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We are weak mentally and there are glaring holes on both end of the floor right now, but that happens sometimes with a young team."
Hinrich had 14 points and nine assists and Chandler added four blocks for the Bulls, who finished at 44 percent (36-of-78) from the field after some erratic early shooting.
"With (Philadelphia) losing, we had to win this game," Chandler said. "We had a chance to get a full game which we needed if we are going to make a run at this thing."
Rookie Chris Paul scored 13 points for the Hornets, who had seven players in double figures but no one to go to down the stretch. They shot just 35 percent (28-of-74).
"We jump out early and then hope the other team will lay down," West said. "Down the stretch we get to passive and don't make any shots."
The Bulls made 6-of-22 shots in the first quarter to fall into a 28-15 hole, then sank 14-of-20 shots in the second period to take a 50-46 lead.