Chicago 111, Charlotte 95

CHICAGO, Dec. 1 (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are off to another slow start, but finally showed what is possible when all their best players contribute.

Ben Gordon scored 34 points, Luol Deng added 29, and the Bulls beat the Charlotte Bobcats 111-95 Saturday night, winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

But despite season-high numbers from Gordon and Deng, it was Ben Wallace who drew the most praise from his teammates after grabbing 19 rebounds and scoring 10 points.

"He had an all-around outstanding game,'' said Bulls coach Scott Skiles. "He has been pretty active, but not quite like this. This is a game where he filled up the stat sheet.''

Added Deng: "When Ben has a game like that, we're hard to beat.''

The Bulls shot 54 percent from the field. They had 23 turnovers, but were willing to look past that and savor the victory.

"The important thing is that we got the win,'' Deng said.

The Bobcats have dropped five straight after an impressive start.

Jason Richardson scored 22 points and Emeka Okafor added 21 points and nine rebounds.

"Okafor was a beast tonight,'' teammate Matt Carroll said. "He could score at will and he only took 13 shots. But I think we need to get him the ball more down low, especially when he's rolling like that. Ten-for-13, you need to get him more shots.''

But the real problem for the Bobcats was their inability to get the boards. When asked about the Bobcats' 24 rebounds -- the second-lowest total in team history -- coach Sam Vincent was at a loss.

"Rebounding solution? I don't have a solution for it,'' he said.

The Bulls took control in the third quarter, building a 15-point lead behind a 22-5 point run. Gordon hit three consecutive 3-pointers during that stretch, the last of which he converted into four points after being fouled by Richardson.

"That's a big part of my game,'' Gordon said. "Our shooting tonight shows what we're capable of.''

The Bulls, who have been among the worst shooting teams in the league this season, hit 60 percent from 3-point range.

Deng scored 15 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a spectacular layup on a feed from Tyrus Thomas. The Bulls, who have struggled from the field this year, shot 60 percent in the period.

"We are not going to shoot 50 percent every game,'' Skiles said. "The wide-open ones, you have to make 80 percent of those and tonight we did.''

The Bobcats scored eight straight points to open the second quarter, tying it at 31. They converted 10 second-quarter Bulls turnovers into 19 points and eventually took the lead for the first time in the game when Richardson sank a wide-open 3-pointer late in the quarter.

Chicago, however, reclaimed the lead on Gordon's layup on their final possession of the half.

The Bulls continued their dominance in the fourth quarter, ultimately emptying their bench with 3 minutes left to play.

Bulls rookie Joakim Noah, who injured his right ankle in the preseason, came out of the game after spraining his left ankle on the first play of the second half. He did not return.

Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace, who averaged 26 points over the last two games, finished with 17 Saturday.

"For the guys who are guarding him, they took it personally and tried to stop him,'' Gordon said.

The Bulls started slowly last season, but started to turn it around this time of the year. They are hoping for a repeat of that turnaround.

"We're just trying to work on getting better as a team,'' Wallace said. "I think that we definitely think that we can be one of the elite teams in this league, but as of late we haven't been playing like it. Tonight we came out and put together a great effort collective, as a team.''

Notes: The game marked a collegiate reunion of sorts, with former Connecticut teammates Gordon and Okafor facing off. Coaches Scott Skiles and Sam Vincent were also college teammates, playing together at Michigan State. ... Okafor had double-doubles in the Bobcats' three previous games.


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