Chicago 109, Denver 108

CHICAGO, March 22 (AP) -- Tyrus Thomas wasn't quite sure what happened. The details were a little fuzzy, so he might want to save the video because this one is worth another look.

The rookie scored on a tip-in with two-tenths of a second left after Ben Gordon's missed jumper, giving the Chicago Bulls a 109-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

"I don't know what happened,'' Thomas said. "I am just glad we got the win. Now, I just have to put this game behind me.''

Allen Iverson's drive along the right side gave the Nuggets a 108-107 lead with 13.1 seconds left, but the Nuggets saw their five-game win streak end in a wild finish.

The Bulls immediately called a timeout, and Kirk Hinrich lost the ball off a Nugget player along the baseline with 9.8 seconds left.

Gordon got trapped in the right corner after catching the inbounds pass and threw a weak pass toward P.J. Brown on the wing. The ball got deflected, and a diving Brown beat the Nuggets' Eduardo Najera. Gordon got it back and missed a jumper from the corner, but Deng - battling with Carmelo Anthony - kept it alive for Thomas.

"I told P.J. he had a nice tackle on the play,'' coach Scott Skiles said. "I felt like we were fortunate to come up with a shot from Ben Gordon, that he could get the ball and get the shot right there. That set off the series of events, and Tyrus was in the right spot and active on the glass.''

Gordon finished with 25 points to lead the Bulls, who had lost two straight to Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Deng had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Hinrich scored 21 points. Brown added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Thomas finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

"I told P.J. I was going to take him to dinner,'' Gordon said. "He was the one who kept the play alive. I think Luol got a finger on it, and Tyrus took it home for us.''

Iverson led Denver with 31 points, Anthony added 28, and Nene had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

"I'd rather lose by 100 points than lose by a tip-in like that,'' Anthony said. "We can't let this shatter our confidence.''

He thought the outcome might have been different had Marcus Camby not left with back spasms in the third quarter.

Either way, it was a much-needed victory for the Bulls after losing to two teams with losing records.

One of the Bulls' goals is to finish with fewer than 10 losses at home, and it's still within reach - barely. They're 26-9, with six games left at the United Center. Two of those are against Detroit and Cleveland, so achieving that goal will be difficult.

More important for the Bulls is securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That could be the difference between a postseason run and an early exit, given their 14-21 road record.

After shooting a combined 7-for-27 against the Clippers, Gordon and Deng rediscovered their touch. Gordon was 10-for-23 and even had a rare dunk late in the first quarter, and Deng was 10-for-23.

The Nuggets led 99-92 after Linas Kleiza's 3-pointer with 5:43 left, but Brown's jumper and Gordon's 3 made it a two-point game. Hinrich tied it at 101 with a drive through the lane, and Deng's basket gave the Bulls a 103-101 lead with 2:54 remaining. Deng, who got fouled, pumped his fist after the shot went in, but he missed the free throw.

Kleiza struck again with 2:03 left, hitting a 3 from the corner, but Deng wasn't finished, either. He drove the lane to put the Bulls back ahead, 105-104 with 1:38 left.

After two free throws by Nene, Gordon pulled up for a jumper on the left side that put the Bulls back ahead 107-106. The drama continued right to the end.

"Deng made a great hustle play,'' Iverson said. "Everybody is going to give the guy who made the shot a lot of the praise, but a lot of that should go to Deng because he made a great hustle play and that's what you've got to do to win.''

Notes: Camby had four points and eight rebounds. ... Hinrich headed to the locker room 3:34 into the third quarter to get stitches for a bloody mouth but returned less than three minutes later. ... Given that their friendship goes back to 1983, it was no surprise Skiles endorsed new Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak. "I'm sure he'll do a great job. He's a good man,'' Skiles said.

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