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Deng! Bulls match last season's wins
At the end, after a 107-100 victory Tuesday night, they could laugh about it all.
They could chuckle at Eddy Curry receiving an ill-timed technical foul for taunting just after he dunked, got fouled and prepared to finish a three-point play.
They could smile at how Scott Skiles came storming onto the court while Josh Howard steamed downcourt for a breakaway dunk off a lazy Curry turnover, a dunk Howard somehow missed.
And, no, Skiles didn't rebound it.
They even could shake their heads at how, somehow, they found themselves playing five rookies at once against one of the Western Conference's elite.
Winning cures all.
The Bulls grinned their way out of American Airlines Center, having downed Dallas with an almost flawless fourth quarter that atoned for their sins of the first three.
The Bulls now have matched last season's victory total after 45 games, snapping a three-game skid overall and a 13-game losing streak to Dallas in the process. They hadn't defeated Dallas since Dec. 29, 1997.
"I'm happy that we played hard," Skiles said. "We have so little margin of error that that's how we have to play."
Luol Deng's monster game of season highs of 30 points and 11 rebounds featured a highlight-reel dunk over Erick Dampier in the fourth, when the Bulls played like the team that recently went 18-4.
That's when Kirk Hinrich, continuing his horrid slump with a 1-for-9 performance through three quarters, sank all three of his shots, all big ones.
That's when Curry, invisible in the first half, scored 11 of his 23 points, including the kind of athletic alley-oop play just after Deng's dunk that reminds all of his dripping potential.
Those back-to-back plays capped the game-turning, 10-2 run and gave the Bulls a 92-82 lead.
"The play before, he blocked my shot," Deng said of his dunk on Dampier. "Instead of going up strong, I looked for the foul. I told myself, 'I'm going up strong.'"
The fourth quarter is also when Tyson Chandler dominated the boards (he finished with 15 rebounds), Ben Gordon hit big shots (he scored 16) and the defense stepped up to frustrate Dallas into 30 percent shooting.
Dallas may have scored 100 points, but it shot 37.2 percent while doing so.
"That's some of the best defense we've played in two weeks," Skiles said.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the second quarter, including three- and four-point plays on consecutive possessions because of fouls on Andres Nocioni.
But Nowitzki went 1 of 7 in the fourth quarter. Dallas played without Jerry Stackhouse, who sat with a strained right groin.
Curry had more turnovers than defensive rebounds at halftime and got pulled 3 minutes 19 seconds after tipoff for a turnover and missed box out.
"The guys realize when I'm in a funk and did a great job of getting me the ball where I could score," Curry said.
"This is a big win," said Deng, who played 47 minutes. "This picks us up again. Hopefully, we can get rolling again."