Nets

Boozer Leads Bulls Past Sputtering Nets 90-81

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Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls shoots against Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets on December 31, 2010 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls shoots against Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets on December 31, 2010 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Carlos Boozer scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls won for the 12th time in 14 games, pulling away late to beat the New Jersey Nets 90-81 on Friday afternoon.

Luol Deng and Derrick Rose scored 19 apiece, and the Bulls made enough shots down the stretch after struggling from the field for much of the game.

Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 19 points. Travis Outlaw and Stephen Graham each scored 16, but the Nets dropped their fourth straight.

At least they didn’t get blown out this time.

Outscored by a combined 51 points over the previous three games, the Nets hung in against the Central division leaders.

New Jersey was within 75-73 after a tip-in by Derrick Favors midway through the fourth quarter but simply couldn’t pull this one out.

Boozer converted a three-point play, Rose hit two free throws and just like that, the Bulls were up 80-73 with 5:24 left.

Rose answered a basket by Devin Harris with an off-balance floater along the baseline. After Graham nailed the jumper, Chicago got a layup by Kurt Thomas and a dunk from Boozer that made it 86-77 with just under three minutes left.

The Bulls prevailed despite shooting 39.5 percent and getting outrebounded 46-43.

Rose struggled with his shot, going 5 of 16, but finished with nine assists. Boozer, who missed practice on Thursday for personal reasons, had his way after some early foul trouble, going 8 of 14 from the field while turning in his fifth double-double in six games.

Even so, it was a difficult game for the Bulls.

There were few highlights in the early going, other than a neat sideline save by C.J. Watson midway through the second quarter.

He flipped the ball behind his back to Kyle Korver on the other side, near the Bulls’ bench. That led to two free throws by Ronnie Brewer, making it 39-28 and capping a seven-point spurt.

The Nets responded with a 14-2 run, scoring 10 straight and then taking a short-lived 42-41 lead on two free throws by Stephen Graham and a 20-footer by Travis Outlaw. It was 44-43 when Ronnie Brewer nailed a 3 from the left with 23 seconds remaining to give the Bulls a two-point halftime lead.

NOTES: Nets backup PG Jordan Farmar sat out with a bruised right knee. The team was awaiting the MRI results. New Jersey also was without F Troy Murphy, who stayed at the hotel with a viral infection and flu. Coach Avery Johnson said Murphy will fly home and miss the game at Minnesota on Saturday. … The Bulls’ four-game homestand continues with Cleveland on Saturday before wrapping up against Toronto on Tuesday. They then visit the Nets the next day.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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