Chicago 112, Memphis 97 (F)

CHICAGO, March 4 (AP) -- Another big lead was disintegrating, and Drew Gooden had one thought on his mind: Not again. But instead of a collapse, there was a sigh of relief.

Gooden and Luol Deng scored 21 points apiece, and the Chicago Bulls withstood a second-half push by Memphis to win 112-97 on Tuesday night and extend the Grizzlies' losing streak to nine games.

The Bulls scored 13 straight to turn a nine-point advantage into a 54-32 lead late in the second quarter, increased it to 30 in the third and hung on, after blowing a 20-point advantage in a loss to Washington in their previous home game.

"I told the guys, 'Don't let this happen again, like we did against Washington,''' said Gooden, who had his best game since the Bulls acquired him and Larry Hughes from Cleveland in the three-team trade that sent Ben Wallace to the Cavaliers.

He was a force inside, hitting 10 of 15 shots, blocking three and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Kirk Hinrich added 19 points, 12 assists and a career-high four blocks, while Andres Nocioni scored 20. Ben Gordon chipped in 16 points for Chicago, which had dropped four of five.

Kyle Lowry scored 24 for Memphis, which is on its longest losing streak since an 0-13 start in 2002-03 and has dropped 15 of 16. Rudy Gay and Darko Milicic added 21 apiece.

A game against the team with the NBA's third-worst record was just what the Bulls needed.

"We don't take a punch very well,'' Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "We need to have guys step up and make plays when the other team is on a roll.''

The Grizzlies were within four early in the second quarter, and it was 41-32 with five minutes left in the period before the Bulls scored 13 straight. Hinrich's basket started the run, and his breakaway layup made it 51-32. Deng then converted a three-point play to make it 55-32 with 1:09 left. It was 54-36 at the half and, unlike the Washington game, there was no collapse. There was some tension, though.

A 69-39 lead just over five minutes into the third dwindled to 13 with 2:17 left. After a timeout, Nocioni and Gordon hit jumpers to make it 79-62. The Grizzlies were back within 13 -- 83-70 -- after Lowry started the fourth with a 3-pointer, and they got within 11 with about 3:30 left. But Chicago hung on.

"When you're down 30, you just got to fight,'' Lowry said. "You don't want to get embarrassed.''

Which is exactly what happened to the Bulls in their previous home game.

Chicago built a 20-point lead late in the second quarter against the Wizards on Friday and was up 18 at halftime, only to see it come crashing down in an 97-91 loss at home that interim coach Jim Boylan said "embarrassed'' the organization and city. Things weren't much better at Cleveland on Sunday.

LeBron James took over late and finished with 37 points as the Cavaliers rallied for a 95-86 victory that left the Bulls three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Against Washington, we just weren't quite as sharp,'' Hinrich said. "We ended up losing the game as a result of it. We did a good job staying sharp, but for whatever reason, tonight we were able to step back, get the game back under control and win the game.''

And when it was over, the mood was much lighter.

Chris Duhon told Hinrich in jest the statisticians were "very generous'' in rewarding blocks.

Gordon said he only saw one and wondered, "Where were the other three, Kirk? Got people in high places, huh?''

Hinrich shrugged it off, saying: "I guess everybody gets lucky some days.''

Notes: The Grizzlies hope Mike Miller, who missed his seventh game because of a sore back, will return Wednesday against New Jersey. ... Chicago's Thabo Sefolosha missed his third game with a strained left groin.


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