This time, Bulls hold on in 4th quarter, beat Nets

BasketballSportsChicago BullsBrooklyn NetsNBAElton BrandMarcus Fizer

The streak had to end sometime.

Covering seven straight road losses and all but the final road game of December, the Bulls avoided a winless road month with a gritty 100-87 victory over the Nets on Monday night at the IZOD Center.

Uh, wait. There's another streak?

Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Fred Hoiberg, Marcus Fizer and A.J. Guyton know about it, even if coach Vinny Del Negro didn't.

"I don't pay attention to that stuff," Del Negro said. "Different teams. Different players."

Nevertheless, the Bulls hadn't won here since Guyton tallied 24 points and Brand corralled 12 rebounds on April 17, 2001, a span of 13 games. That included the loss to end the 2006-07 season, which prevented the Bulls from winning 50 games and capturing the Eastern Conference's second seed.

"2001?" Rose said incredulously. "I was in grammar school. So I wasn't even thinking about the NBA back then."

Luckily for the Bulls, Rose is now. His 21 points and season-high 13 assists featured 10 fourth-quarter points as the Bulls doubled up the Nets in the fourth. Andres Nocioni also scored 10 in the fourth, taking advantage of the Nets' double-teaming of Rose.

"Sometimes I can do it, you know?" Nocioni said, smiling. "I was confident. But I took my open shots. That's it. I did nothing special. When Derrick passes me the ball, I'm going to shoot my shot. I'm wide open."

With the game tied 86-86 and 4 minutes 35 seconds left, the Bulls ripped off a 14-0 run. Ben Gordon swished two three-pointers and Rose added a long jumper and two free throws.

The Nets went scoreless for the final 4:34 except for Vince Carter's free throw with 15.9 seconds to go.

"We played better defense," said Nocioni, who had called out his teammates after Saturday's loss in Atlanta. "I like the attitude and how we played the fourth quarter."

The Bulls came out where they left off offensively in Atlanta, shooting 54 percent in the first quarter to build a 13-point lead and making half their three-pointers by halftime, by which point their lead had been whittled to 54-49.

Larry Hughes, effective with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, sank his first three shots, including two three-pointers, and had 13 points by the break. Gordon added 15 by halftime.

But live by the perimeter shot, die by the perimeter shot, and the Bulls went cold to start the third. They missed their first seven shots, with two turnovers for good measure, and didn't score until Rose's layup at the 6:43 mark.

The Bulls finally changed some negative road streaks.

"I was just taking what the defense was giving me," Rose said. "I was just making the open pass. In the second half they double-teamed all the time. But I adjusted to it.

"We really needed this one. We were falling back a bit. We made plays down the stretch and got stops. It feels good."

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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