The last time the Bulls visited the Wachovia Center, they played poorly and lost by 15.
Wednesday night they committed 15 turnovers, shot 40 percent from the free-throw line and still won 88-87 on Kirk Hinrich's 18-foot jumper with 26.9 seconds remaining.
What a difference close to four months makes.
After their second double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback this month, the Bulls are 10-3 since the All-Star break. They have won five of seven road games and stand a season-high 11 games above .500.
"Good teams in this league are the ones who can come on the road and pull out a win like this," Ben Wallace said.
Few could have predicted this on that Nov. 24 night that dropped the Bulls to 3-9 and, worse, contained the incident that set off Wallace.
Wallace sleepwalked through a zero-point, zero-rebound performance that led to coach Scott Skiles benching him for a 10-minute-38-second first-half stretch and the game's final 17:44. Wallace broke out his infamous headband in defiance the next night in New York.
Now, Wallace is posting monster numbers like 10 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying eight assists. And he and Skiles are trading jokes as easily as backslaps.
Told beforehand Wallace said he needs 20 shots every game, a nod to his career-high 21 attempts in Tuesday's victory over Boston, Skiles chuckled.
"Good luck with that," Skiles said.
Some luck is what the Bulls needed to survive a game in which they trailed by as many as 12 points and started so slowly Skiles utilized the rarely seen lineup of Hinrich, Chris Duhon, Thabo Sefolosha, Tyrus Thomas and Michael Sweetney in the first quarter.
Offensive reboundingthe Bulls had 20allowed them to post a staggering 33-4 edge in second-chance points and keep them hanging around on a night Ben Gordon shot 4 of 19.
Trailing 72-62, the Bulls opened the fourth with a Luol Deng dunk, Deng layup and Adrian Griffin layup.
The Bulls pulled even for just the second time at 84-84 when Wallace rebounded a Duhon miss and fed Deng for a dunk. And then Deng, who scored 12 of his game-high 20 in the fourth, scored on a layup on a feed from Duhon for the Bulls' first lead with 3:57 remaining.
"We didn't play well," Deng said, "but we kept fighting."
The 76ers retook the lead on Samuel Dalembert's alley-oop dunk from Andre Iguodala with 2:14 remaining. But after the teams traded misses on four straight possessions, Griffin rebounded a Gordon miss and Skiles sent out four guards and Deng after a timeout.
A broken play led to Deng driving, almost slipping and finding Hinrich alone in the corner in front of the 76ers' bench. Hinrich, 5 of 15 to that point, swished the game-winner.
"If I'm open, I'm pretty confident it's going in," Hinrich said.
Following an Iguodala air ball, the 76ers got one last chance when Griffin, who was otherwise solid in the fourth, missed two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. But Wallace tipped the second miss long enough to take time off the clock and force a timeout. Iguodala's 30-footer at the buzzer then missed badly.
"For a guy who has been here since we couldn't buy a win no matter how well we played, we have to take it," Hinrich said. "We played badly. But we still won. That's a good thing."
Said Skiles: "Ben was outstanding again. It seems like he's turning it up as we come down the stretch."
Wallace has three straight double-doubles after recording just seven in his first 61 games. What's next?
"Keep your eyes open, baby," Wallace said, smiling. "Don't miss it."
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