Bulls Stampede Wizards, Win Fourth Straight
Posted Dec 3 2006 2:38AM
CHICAGO, Dec. 2 (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are starting to emerge and meet the lofty expectations they carried into this season.
Ben Gordon scored 28 points and Andres Nocioni added 24 to lead Chicago to a 112-94 victory Saturday night over the Washington Wizards, who set a franchise record with their eighth straight road loss to start the season.
The two led the charge as the Bulls outscored Washington 33-19 in the second quarter, and Chicago opened an eight-game homestand with its fourth straight victory.
``We won four games that we should have won, but it's still good, still positive energy,'' Gordon said. ``We just have to build on it, try to get better.''
Gordon hit 10-of-21 shots, including 5-of-9 3-pointers. And Nocioni picked up where he left off the previous night, when he scored a career-high 31 points in a three-point victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Oklahoma City. He was 9-of-15 from the field.
Luol Deng added 18 points and nine rebounds. Kirk Hinrich had 10 points and nine assists, while Ben Wallace showed no sign of the stiff neck or right hand injury that have bothered him lately. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Caron Butler had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who took sole possession of a dubious franchise record. The 1986-87 team dropped its first seven on the road.
Gilbert Arenas was 3-of-11 and scored 10, after delivering 33 points and 10 assists in Friday's 121-109 victory over Charlotte. And the Wizards were at a loss to explain their struggles on the road.
``This is the first time in my career that I felt like I'm not doing anything out there on the road,'' he said. ``At home, it's good. On the road, it's a different story.''
Coach Eddie Jordan called it ``sort of a mystery'' and ``a work in progress.''
A Bulls team built on defense has been showing some offensive flair lately.
The 112 points were a season-high, and Saturday's game was Chicago's sixth straight with at least 100. Nocioni and Gordon set the tone, scoring 13 and 12 in the second quarter as Chicago turned a four-point edge into a 62-44 halftime advantage.
``We went to a matchup zone and Kirk Hinrich did a good job of throwing it weak side, where the shots were coming from, and Nocioni was making a lot of shots,'' Butler said.
Up 29-25, Nocioni started the outburst with a three from the corner just over a minute into the period. He added a layup, a three from the wing and another from the corner that made it 42-28 with 7:36 left in the half. And the lead continued to grow.
It was 50-31 after a jumper by Hinrich and turnaround jumper by Tyrus Thomas with 5:15 left in the half, and the Wizards couldn't stop the momentum.
Not after Brendan Haywood delivered a two-handed dunk over Thomas. And not after Gordon lost his dribble near the top of the key. Chicago recovered the loose ball, Deng grabbed the rebound after Hinrich missed a rushed three at the shot-clock buzzer, and Gordon hit a three that made it 53-33. He added another one on the Bulls' next possession to make it a 21-point game, and the lead reached 60-36 on Nocioni's 16-footer with 2:34 left in the half.
After seeing a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindle to two the previous night, the Bulls never were challenged in the second half. They led by as much as 30 in the third quarter.
They were aggressive on defense and active on the glass, where they held a 49-36 rebounding edge, and they were 41-of-81 from the field while committing just 12 turnovers. A team that had dropped six straight before this win streak left the United Center with a good feeling.
``We were really moving the ball on the offensive end, knocking down our shots,'' Gordon said. ``And when we got on defense, we were getting deflections, rebounding the ball, getting some steals and getting the fastbreak going.''
The Bulls realize 21 of the next 29 games are home, and if they're going to establish themselves as Eastern Conference contenders, now is the time. ``It feels really good,'' Deng said. ``We've got a favorable schedule. We've just got to take care of it.''
The Wizards, meanwhile, could only shake their heads after another road loss.
``We're a fine team at home,'' Arenas said. ``I'm not worrying about home; I'm worrying about the road.''
Notes: The Wizards host Dallas on Monday, then visit New York and Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday. ... Chicago G Chris Duhon left with what is believed to be a mild concussion midway through the third quarter.
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