The Chicago Bulls are looking unstoppable after winning their eighth straight Thursday. They finished 11 points ahead as they tore through the Nets.
Derrick Rose scored 21 points and the Chicago Bulls extended their longest winning streak in six years to eight games with an 84-73 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night.
Luol Deng added 19 points for the Bulls (49-18), who took a half-game lead over idle Boston in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Rookie Omer Asik added 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
The Nets rallied in the fourth quarter but Kyle Korver had seven of his 12 in the final period, helping the Bulls hold on.
Brook Lopez scored 22 points for New Jersey, which had won five straight for its longest winning streak in the last three years. Kris Humphries added 13 points and 16 rebounds, and Deron Williams had 11 assists, but Rose controlled him on defense, limiting him to five points on 1-of-12 shooting.
The Nets rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third and tied it three times in the final 5:50, the last occasion on two free throws by Lopez with 4:06 to go.
Deng then came off a screen and hit a jumper to put the Bulls ahead for good. After the teams exchanged empty possessions, Rose stole a cross-court pass by Williams and scored on a drive to push the lead to 73-69 with 3:18 remaining.
Anthony Morrow and Sasha Vujacic missed jumpers for New Jersey and Chicago took advantage. Korver hit a free throw after the Nets were called for an illegal defense and Joakim Noah, who was returning to the lineup after missing a game with flulike symptoms, went over Humphries for a rebound and scored for a 76-69 lead.
After Vujacic scored on a goaltending call against Rose, Korver, who turned 30 on Thursday, hit a 3-pointer and Kurt Thomas converted a layup to put the game away.
Limited to 50 points in the first three quarters and only down by 10, the Nets made a run in the opening four minutes of the fourth, closing to 62-59 on a 3-pointer by Vujacic.
The Bulls called timeout and quickly got Rose back in the lineup. The Nets kept it up but couldn’t overcome Chicago, which won the rebounding battle 50-46 and held New Jersey to 35 percent shooting.
NOTES: Williams had dinner with his former Jazz teammate Korver on Wednesday. … Bulls F Carlos Boozer has missed four straight games with a sprained ankle. … The Bulls lead the season series 2-1. … Williams hit a runner at the end of the first quarter. It was originally ruled good but overturned after a videotape review. … The Bulls wore their St. Patrick’s Day green uniforms.
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