Bulls 94, Kings 93

CHICAGO, Jan. 5 (AP) -- Ben Wallace was at the foul line with the score tied and just seconds to go. Overtime seemed inevitable.

Standing at the line, the 41.9 percent career free-throw shooter recognized that someone was likely to hit a game-winning shot, if not in regulation, then in overtime.

"Why not me?'' Wallace wondered.

Wallace hit the first of two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining and then blocked Brad Miller's jumper with about a second left to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 94-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Sacramento's Justin Williams grabbed the rebound after the second foul shot, and the Kings called a 20-second timeout. Miller caught the inbound pass, and Wallace blocked the shot to preserve a wild victory for the Bulls.

Miller thought he was then fouled by Chicago's Chris Duhon as he tried to fling in the loose ball at the buzzer and let the officials hear it as two teammates escorted him from the court.

"Wallace's block was fine,'' said Miller, who then referred to himself in the third person. "The reach-in on the end, (Duhon) almost knocked the guy's arm off. Got to give him a chance to at least shoot the ball I thought, but I guess not.''

Besides Wallace's dramatics, the Bulls got strong performances from Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon.

With Luol Deng sitting out because of left Achilles' tendinitis, Nocioni started and rewarded the Bulls with 26 points and five rebounds. He scored 13 in the first five minutes and never slowed down, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers and going 7-of-10 overall from the field.

It was a big improvement over the previous five games, when Nocioni hit just 17-of-49 shots.

"One thing I noticed was Noce was rebounding well tonight,'' interim coach Jim Boylan said. "If you watch his game, usually if he is rebounding, he is into the flow of the game.''

Gordon added 20 points and Chicago improved to 4-2 under Boylan. Kirk Hinrich added 13 points, and Tyrus Thomas scored 14, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots.

Miller led Sacramento with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Dahntay Jones and Quincy Douby set season-highs with 16 and 14 points, respectively, but the Kings lost for the sixth time in seven games in part because they couldn't hang onto the ball. They committed 19 turnovers, three in the final 2:30.

"Down the stretch, you've got to make plays,'' coach Reggie Theus said. "You can't turn the ball over. About a minute or so to go, we turned it over three times. It was tough to survive it.''

Tied at 93, the Kings had a chance to go ahead after Gordon missed a floater with 26 seconds left. After a timeout, John Salmons drove and spun but got called for a travel with six seconds left.

The Bulls then took advantage of their opportunity.

The play was designed for Gordon, but he wasn't open.

Hinrich inbounded the ball to Wallace following a timeout and immediately got it back. The two executed a give-and-go, with Hinrich finding the big man cutting toward the hoop.

Wallace got fouled by Mikki Moore and made the first free throw after missing his first four of the game. It was his lone point of the game, although he did grab 11 rebounds.

That Wallace came through with a big block wasn't shocking; he is a four-time Defensive Player of the Year. That he hit the go-ahead free throw was, considering he had missed his first four. That included an airball and several others that made a knuckleball look straight by comparison.

"I already had some practice shots, so I needed to make one,'' Wallace said. "The laws of physics, eventually one is going in.''

Notes: Although an MRI on Friday revealed no major structural damage, the Bulls are taking a cautious approach with Deng. Their second-leading scorer at 17.9 points, Deng left in the second quarter of last Thursday's double-overtime loss to Portland and managed only two points. ... Kings coach Reggie Theus acknowledged he got "a little sappy'' on the way to the arena. After all, he spent his first five-and-a-half seasons as a player with the Bulls in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and Saturday's game was his first in Chicago as a head coach. The memories came flooding back. "How many times in a person's life are they in a stadium where they're chanting your name? All 6,000 of them,'' Theus said. He recalled getting a standing ovation at a Michael Jackson concert his rookie year. "Those are pretty incredible things for a young guy,'' he said.


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