Chicago 96, Dallas 85

CHICAGO, Jan. 25 (AP) -- P.J. Brown's first priority was guarding Dirk Nowitzki. The key points Brown scored in the fourth quarter were a bonus for the Chicago Bulls.

Brown played his typically good defense and scored six points down the stretch to help Chicago snap the Dallas Mavericks' eight-game winning streak with a 96-85 victory Thursday night.

"Tonight things were rolling and the ball felt good, said Brown, who finished with 12 points.'' Sometimes you have to want to take the shot. I got in a nice little rhythm and after that I just kept shooting. It was just one of those nights.

"I didn't think we needed much from me on the offensive end. Most important was for me to stay with Dirk and not let him have a monster night.''

Nowitzki had 28 points and 11 rebounds, but shot 7-for-22 from the field and the Mavericks lost for just the second time in 23 games.

Ben Gordon scored 30 points for Chicago and Luol Deng added 21.

After nearly blowing an early 17-point lead, the Bulls pulled away late in the fourth quarter.

Nowitzki's 3 closed Chicago's lead to 79-76 with 4:31 left.

Brown followed with a basket and Kirk Hinrich added a three, making it 84-76. Erick Dampier's dunk for Dallas cut the lead to 86-81, but Brown answered by going around Nowitzki for a basket and hitting a jumper to make it 90-81 with 1:16 left.

Hinrich added 15 points and eight rebounds and Ben Wallace had 17 rebounds for Chicago, who improved to 19-6 at home.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 16 points and Jason Terry added 12 points and six assists for Dallas.

"It's a disappointing loss but sometimes a loss wakes everybody up again and we know we haven't arrived,'' Nowitzki said.

Josh Howard, Dallas' No. 2 scorer behind Nowitzki, also had poor shooting game. Entering the fourth quarter, Nowitzki was 4-for-16 and Howard was 1-for-15.

They finally got it going in the fourth.

Nowitzki went to the basket and scored and Howard followed with a jumper to make it 72-67. After Gordon hit a jumper, Howard converted a three-point play to close the gap to 74-70 with 6:24 left.

Nowitzki's jumper cut Chicago's lead to 53-48 early in the third quarter, but the Bulls responded with a 12-3 run. Brown had back-to-back baskets for the Bulls and Gordon followed with a jumper. Deng's steal and a dunk gave the Bulls a 65-51 lead with 2:28 left in the quarter.

Howard finished 4-for-20 and Dallas shot 31.2 percent, its worst of the season.

"I thought we didn't execute very well offensively. We had a lot of good looks that we normally make. It was just an all-around bad offensive night for us,'' Nowitzki said.

The Bulls jumped out to a 23-6 with Deng scoring eight points. Dallas was held to 13 points in the first quarter, its season-low for a quarter.

"One thing this team does really well is come out and really established ourselves early and kind of put teams back on their heels,'' Gordon said.

Nowitzki and Stackhouse kept Dallas in striking distance in the second quarter. Stackhouse came off the bench and scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and Nowitzki scored 15 points. Nowitzki was just 3-of-10 from the floor, but made all nine free throw attempts.

Chicago led 47-41 at the half behind Gordon's 16 points.

Gordon hopes the win give the Bulls some confidence, especially with the defending champs, Miami Heat coming in on Saturday.

"Hopefully it motivates us and gives us confidence to realize we can beat anyone in the NBA, when we're playing the right way, the way we're supposed to play,'' Gordon said.

Notes: Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, sitting courtside, got a loud ovation in the third quarter.


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