Bulls finish off a December to remember

So what does a 22-year-old with millions in the bank and just as many fans worldwide want for his birthday?

"Just a win," LeBron James said Saturday night before tipoff. "That'd be the best present."

After feasting on a dominant December, the Bulls had no gifts left because they denied King James his wish, if not his 33 points.

The Bulls won their seventh straight at the United Center and beat Cleveland for the first time in six tries with a 103-96 victory before a season-high crowd of 22,965. They took over second place in the Central Division from Cleveland and now own the most victories in the Eastern Conference, though their winning percentage trails Detroit.

"This is huge," P.J. Brown said, "because this is a team we'll be seeing down the road."

The Bulls went 14-3 in December, including 11-1 at home, and are now 12-0 this season at home against Eastern Conference teams.

"That's one of the best months I've been involved in in the pros," coach Scott Skiles said.

The Bulls capped it with a staggering 24-0 run that bridged the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.

Riding a lineup of Brown, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Malik Allen, the Bulls turned a 67-60 deficit into an 84-67 lead. Cleveland missed 14 straight shots, committed three turnovers and went 9 minutes 50 seconds without scoring.

Allen, who hadn't played the last two games, scored 10 in the spurt.

"You could make a case that he won the game for us," Skiles said.

That would sell short Deng, who still wore a wrap on his—ahem—sore right wrist but scored eight in the game-changing run and finished with a career-high 32 points on ridiculous 15-of-19 shooting.

"That may not happen again in his career," Skiles said.

Deng has shot 26 of 35 for 74.3 percent in the two games since Miami's James Posey committed a flagrant foul on him Wednesday, and he sprained two fingers on his shooting hand and his wrist.

"The wrist felt better," Deng said. "What can I say? I'm in a good rhythm."

With Kirk Hinrich sidelined by a strained groin and Ben Wallace nursing a tender ankle suffered in the first quarter, Skiles didn't substitute from the 6:50 mark of the third quarter until Michael Sweetney replaced Allen with 5:55 remaining.

Brown, logging his second straight game of 30-plus minutes, had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Duhon finished with 11 assists.

"They went on that big run, and that killed us," James said. "They moved the ball well and picked it up defensively."

Particularly on James, who shot 4-for-11 in the second half after scoring 22 on 11-of-15 shooting by the break.

Cleveland opened the second half with a 14-4 run thanks to James draining long three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. The second came on a pull-up jumper over Thabo Sefolosha on a fast break, allowing Cleveland to grab its seven-point lead.

But the Bulls, who also got 21 points from Gordon, stormed back with their game-changing run, winning for just the fifth time in 14 tries since James entered the league.

"When you have a chance to emphasize a game, you like to see what happens," Skiles said. "We got a great response."