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Thomas' tip-in lifts Bulls over Nuggets
Tyrus Thomas has been showing more emotion as his rookie season has progressed.
But nothing has been seen like the pogo-stick routine he displayed after tipping in the winning points for an improbable Bulls victory Thursday night at a raucous United Center.
Thomas' putback of a Ben Gordon miss with 0.2 seconds left gave the Bulls a 109-108 triumph and snapped the team's two-game losing streak and the Nuggets' five-game winning streak.
Of most importance, it reacquainted the Bulls with those long-lost concepts of passion and intensity.
Thomas was greeted with a standing ovation as he conducted a postgame interview on the court. He finished with nine points and 11 rebounds and played most of the entire fourth quarter in lieu of Ben Wallace.
Trailing 92-84 late in the fourth, the Bulls clawed back. The winning points came on a broken play in which the Bulls almost kicked the ball away before a diving P.J. Brown tipped the ball to Gordon in the corner.
Gordon, who led the Bulls with 25 points, rimmed his shot long. But Deng tipped the ball toward the basket and Thomas was there for the putback and the pogo-stick routine.
The Bulls led 103-101 when Deng scored with 2:54 remaining, was fouled and traded skin with some courtside fans. But he missed the ensuing free throw, and Linas Kleiza drained a three-pointer at the other end for a 104-103 Nuggets lead.
Deng attacked the rim to score on a layup with 1:41 to play for another lead change. Kleiza then was called for a questionable charge on Gordon, sending coach George Karl into full spin-cycle mode on the sideline.
This did, too: Following Hinrich and Gordon misses, Nene rebounded and promptly threw the ball out of bounds trying to outlet to Carmelo Anthony with 50.9 seconds left.
The Bulls failed to take advantage.
Gordon's runner in the lane went long, and Gordon then fouled Nene on the battle for the rebound. Nene sank both free throws with 32.4 seconds left for yet another lead change.
But Gordon didn't waste anytime, swishing a 16-footer over Steve Blake with 23.6 seconds left for a 107-106 advantage.
That's when Iverson struck. His running one-hander high off the glass with 13.1 seconds remaining is the kind of shot only a handful of players make. It came as he blew past Hinrich and Deng and floated the shot over Brown for a 108-107 lead.
Deng added 22 points and 14 rebounds. Hinrich had 21 points and eight assists.
Iverson led the Nuggets with 31 points. Anthony added 28.
The requisite buzz surrounding any visit by Iverson materialized early, with a loud ovation during player introductions from the sellout crowd of 22,646. Whatever boos existed were drowned out by cheersand Karl might have been leading them.
"I'm waiting for the first blip on the screen," Karl said before the game. "He has been great."
Iverson was quiet in the first half, taking what the defense gave him and posting almost as many assists, with five, as his eight shots and seven points.
The Bulls led 55-51 at halftime thanks to 53.5 percent shooting and 13 Nuggets turnovers.
Shadowing Iverson is seemingly good for three or foul fouls automatically. But Hinrich's start-and-stop night was derailed even further in the thirdafter he scored nine quick points in the first 3:35 after halftime.
Hinrich had to leave the court to get stitches in his lip, which spouted blood as he walked off.
With 90 seconds left in the third, Hinrich picked up his fourth foul on Iverson and left again.
The start of the second half was delayed by several minutes when a Special Olympics athlete had to be taken off the court on a stretcher after falling and hitting his head. Players from both teams applauded.
The Bulls' goal of single-digit home losses remains intactimprobably.