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 Bulls hang on to beat Kings 99-94

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PostSubject: Bulls hang on to beat Kings 99-94   Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:02 pm

CHICAGO(AP) The way the Chicago Bulls were
converting their free throws, the odds that their performance at the
line could actually cost them seemed as long as a full-court heave.And it nearly happened.Ben
Gordon scored 24 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the Sacramento Kings
99-94 on Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.The Bulls converted 33 of 36 free throws, but the three they missed nearly cost them.After
making its first 29, Chicago converted just four of its final seven,
allowing Sacramento to stay in the game. Drew Gooden had two of the
misses, nearly spoiling a big return in which he had 18 points and 10
rebounds after being sidelined for eight games with a sprained right
ankle."It would have taken a toll on me, because a lot of people
were asking when I was going to get back, (saying) the team needs me,''
Gooden said.Trailing 97-94 after Gooden hit 1-of-2 with 9.1
seconds left, Sacramento had a chance to tie it. But Kevin Martin
missed a finger roll with 4 seconds left, and Thabo Sefolosha hit two
more free throws to seal it for Chicago."It's just a play where
I come up the middle and if the 3 is open, take it,'' Martin said. "But
I think we needed a 3. I just felt pressure, and I went to the hole and
missed it.''Coach Kenny Natt had no problem with Martin driving. But the shot itself caught him off guard."They collapsed on him,'' he said. "We thought he would kick it to one of the other players and it didn't happen.''That
decision capped another rough night for the lowly Kings, who have
dropped 10 of 11 even though Martin scored 29. And it was far from an
impressive win for the Bulls, who were coming off a 10-point loss to
Minnesota.About the only area where Chicago excelled was at the
foul line - for most of the night, anyway. The Bulls would have broken
the club record for free throws without a miss in a game (25-for-25
against Houston on Feb. 9, 1977) had they not struggled at the end.The Kings were closing in on the Bulls even before the misses started to pile up.Chicago
built several double-digit leads in the second half, only to see
Sacramento cut into it each time. Larry Hughes' jumper made it 84-70
less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Kings responded
with a 10-0 run that Francisco Garcia capped with a dunk.Garcia
made another nice play to cut Chicago's lead to 90-89 with about two
minutes left. He poked the ball away from Derrick Rose as he attempted
a crossover, and broke for a layup.Gordon then hit two free
throws, making Chicago 28-for-28, and Larry Hughes added one to make it
93-89 with 1:01 left before clanging the second attempt. That's where
the problems at the line started.Rose's floater made it 95-91
with 33 seconds remaining, but Martin responded by making two of three
foul shots with 21.9 seconds to go.The Kings immediately fouled
Gooden, who missed the first and made the second. After a timeout,
Martin drove past Sefolosha and got fouled by Tyrus Thomas, the ball
rolling around before falling to the side. So instead of a possible
three-point play, he made the first of two free-throw attempts with
13.9 seconds left to make it a two-point game.Brad Miller
outmuscled Gooden for the rebound after Martin missed the second
attempt. But rather than go back up, he passed to Martin, who missed a
15-foot baseline jumper and the Bulls hung on.Martin had another
strong outing for the Kings after scoring 36 against New Jersey on
Monday and 45 against Indiana two days earlier, and Miller finished
with 18 points and 12 rebounds.But the Bulls prevailed thanks to Gordon, Gooden and solid outings by Rose (16 points and eight assists) and Thomas (14)."That's a team we should be able to beat and we needed to be able to take advantage of that,'' Gordon said.Notes:
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said he hopes to have F Luol Deng back
against Washington on Friday. Deng sat out his sixth straight game with
a sprained left ankle. ... Sacramento C Spencer Hawes scored three
points after missing four games with an abdominal strain.

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