Local News

Chicago,  IL (SportsNetwork.com)  - Carlos Boozer returned from a nagging calf 
injury that cost him three games and totaled 15 points and 10 rebounds to help 
the  Chicago Bulls head into the  All-Star break on  a high note with a 92-76 
victory over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Boozer's replacement in the starting lineup when he was sidelined, Taj Gibson, 
chipped  in with a 16-point, five-rebound effort in a reserve role, and Joakim 
Noah  continued  to fill  the stat sheet  with 14 points,  13 boards and seven 
assists. 

"We have to look at our team in totality. For us to achieve, we need Carlos to 
play well. With our depth up front, we have three starters and they all have 
to sacrifice," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. 

Chicago,  which has  taken four  of its  last five,  owned a  45-27 rebounding 
advantage  and  held a  Nets team  that had  won four  of five  coming in to a 
season-low point total on 38.8 percent shooting. 

Paul  Pierce led the  Nets with 15 points but was held scoreless in the fourth 
quarter.  Brookyln's lone All-Star, Joe Johnson, provided 11 points on 4-of-14 
shooting. 

"We need to play better defense when Kevin [Garnett] comes out of the game. We 
sustain when he is in there, but he can't play 34 minutes," said Pierce. 

Six  of the 15 turnovers created by the Bulls came in the opening quarter, one 
coming off a steal by Jimmy Butler that saw Kirk Hinrich run the fastbreak and 
send  a lob  back to  Butler, whose  deft touch  pass to  Noah resulted  in an 
uncontested dunk and an 18-11 Chicago lead early on. 

Butler's  reverse  layup and Nazr  Mohammed's jumper opened the second-quarter 
scoring  and stretched  the  margin to  33-19,  and  it was  a  49-41 game  at 
halftime. 

Pierce  scored eight points  in the first 4:01 of the third, with his two free 
throws  cutting  the gap to  56-53. Chicago, though, scored  11 of the next 13 
points  to regain  its double-digit advantage, and a three-point play by Deron 
Williams in the closing seconds of the third pulled Brooklyn within 69-61. 

The  Nets  were again  within three,  75-72, following  the first 3-pointer of 
Andre Kirilenko's season midway through the fourth, and again the Bulls had an 
answer with nine consecutive points. 

D.J.  Augustin  countered Kirilenko's triple with  a deep make of his own, and 
the  run  was capped when blocks  by Noah and  Butler on Andray Blatche on the 
same possession led to a Gibson jumper at the other end. 

It was a double-digit game for the final three minutes. 

                                   Game Notes 

Chicago  is two games over .500 (27-25) for the first time since it was 6-4 on 
Nov.  21 ... The Bulls have won the last four meetings, including a Christmas 
Day  victory when they  held the Nets to 78 points, which was their season low 
prior to Thursday ... Butler and  Mike Dunleavy each had 14 points for Chicago 
... Brooklyn's first six games after the break will be on the road.

 
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