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At last, a string of important plays
For once, the Bulls made big play after big play Friday night at the United Center.
One might say they did so with the metronome-like consistency of an Elton Brand double-double.
Brand indeed posted that with a huge game of 25 points and 19 rebounds. But Brand's missed reverse layup with 10.8 seconds remaining in overtime helped the Bulls hang on for a 114-110 victory, their second straight.
Eddy Curry's jump hook over Brand with 23.1 seconds left in overtime put the Bulls ahead for good. After Brand's miss, Jamal Crawford iced the victory with two free throws.
The Bulls, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series, were led by Curry's 27 points. He also had 10 rebounds.
Jamal Crawford added 24 points and 12 assists, Kirk Hinrich had 21 points and nine assists and Jannero Pargo added 20 points off the bench. Not since Nov. 16, 1985, had the Bulls placed four players over 20 points.
The Clippers blew a chance to seal it in regulation when Doug Overton missed the second of two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining. The Bulls had been forced to foul when Pargo missed a pull-up 18-foot jumper on the previous possession.
But Pargo made amends when he drained a wide-open three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in regulation off a well-designed and well-executed inbounds play. Corey Maggette then missed a three-point attempt at the regulation buzzer. Maggette led all scorers with 34 points.
The Clippers had led most of the second half after coming out of halftime with a 22-4 run, punctuated by five Bulls turnovers and back-to-back questionable foul calls on Hinrich, who also drew a technical.
Foul trouble hurt, too, because the shorthanded Bulls again played without Kendall Gill, Jerome Williams and Tyson Chandler.
Brand received a warm round of applause from the crowd of 19,443 during player introductions. Even he remains surprised by the Bulls' lack of progress,
"When I was traded, I thought, 'OK, it's a move for the future,'" Brand said. "Not the immediate future, but in two or three years. Three years went by now and what's their record? Definitely worse than ours, I know that."
Then again, the Clippers have lost 10 straight. But Brand doesn't regret that the Clippers matched an offer sheet he signed with the Heat last summer.
"I'll always stay upbeat," Brand said. "It's hard to bring me down too much. It has been frustrating at times, of course. I see Brad Miller on (a top) team (Sacramento) in the West. Ron-Ron's (Artest) on the No. 1 team (Indiana) in the East.
"I wish them well, of course, but it's like, 'I want to get my shot.' Miami (should make) the playoffs, and I almost was there. But it's going to happen. I stay positive. I have faith."
Bits: Johnny "Red" Kerr handled the news that he again failed to make the Basketball Hall of Fame with his typical humor, but friends and colleagues spoke of how Kerr had higher hopes this year. "I am disappointed," Kerr admitted.
Scottie Pippen is running out of games to try to play again this season. "I feel pretty good, but I probably won't be playing in any of them," Pippen said.