CHICAGO, April 11 (Ticker) -- When the Chicago Bulls needed baskets in the closing period, Ben Gordon produced.

Gordon scored 21 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and Kirk Hinrich finished with 22 and nine assists as the Bulls executed down the stretch to post a 104-101 victory over the New Jersey Nets, who wasted 43 points from All-Star Vince Carter.

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Andres Nocioni collected 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for the Bulls (36-41), who pulled even with idle Philadelphia for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"I was determined to take over in the fourth quarter," Gordon said. "Early on I wasn't making shots, so I just tried to come back and keep going to the basket."

"It was one of our best all-around efforts of the season," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "The guys were really in tune with the game plan. Ben made some big shots, but it was Andres who made the difference in the game."

In a close game, Gordon nailed a jumper with 2:13 left to give Chicago an 87-82 edge. But Carter responded with a jumper 19 seconds later to pull the Nets within three.

"They needed a win and (Gordon) hit his shots," Carter said. "I was trying to get a win for my team, they just wanted it a little more tonight."

Gordon sandwiched a 3-pointer and a difficult layup for a three-point play around a basket by Carter for a 93-86 advantage with just 82 ticks left. After two foul shots by Carter 10 seconds later got New Jersey within five, Malik Allen - who had 11 points and eight boards - hit a jumper to push the bulge to 95-88 with 52 seconds remaining.

"This was the effort we needed after what happened the other night against Philly," Allen said about Saturday's 89-75 loss here to the 76ers. "We are in a tight race so every win is big for us. This is a win we really needed."

Gordon netted eight consecutive free throws to seal the win for the Bulls, who captured two of the three meetings with the Nets this season.

"Those shots were big because we needed all of them," said Gordon, who sank 19-of-21 foul shots. "Every time they had a chance to make big plays, I just tried to stay aggressive and keep getting to the line."

Carter, who drilled a 3-pointer off the glass from half court as time expired, made 12-of-27 shots - including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc - and 13-of-17 from the foul line.

"I would definitely take the win first over the points," Carter said. "I was just trying to help my team get a win. We went into a dry spell on offense and defense that gave them the confidence to come back and ride it out for the win."

Richard Jefferson added 22 points and Nenad Krstic contributed 17 for New Jersey (47-30), which fell 3 1/2 games behind Miami in the race for second place in the East.

"I wasn't good defensively," Jefferson said. "I think the two early fouls messed me up, from there I just tried to stay out of foul trouble."