Bulls find answer to Kittles, rally past Nets


Jud Buechler makes the steal and goes in for some air-time on backboard-cam.
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CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen combined for 20 points in the second-quarter run as the Chicago Bulls rebounded from a 16-point first-quarter deficit to trounce the New Jersey Nets, 113-81.

Jordan finished with 24 points and Pippen 20 for Chicago (24-3), which has won seven straight games and improved to 11-1 at home.

Kendall Gill and Kerry Kittles scored 19 points apiece for the Nets, who have lost six of their last seven games and again were denied in a bid for their first winning streak under coach John Calipari.

CHICAGO has won its two games against New Jersey by a combined 53 points and has won the last seven games between the teams.

New Jersey stormed out of the gate to take a 10-0 lead as Kittles had seven points and Gill added a 3-pointer. The Nets took their largest lead of the quarter at 16 points, the last time at 32-16 on a jumper by Bradley with 26 seconds to go.

Kittles made all seven of his shots from the field in the first quarter, including three from beyond the arc.

"I decided to try and deny the ball to Kittles after he burned us and me for 17 points," said Jordan. "We played hard defensively from that time on and we were able to get a lot of transition baskets. As far as Kittles, he impressed me, even though we shut him down, he didn't talk trash. I think he's one of the NBA stars in the future."

But the Bulls started rolling in the second quarter, using a 14-2 burst to take a 38-36 lead. Jordan had eight points in the run, which was capped by a steal and dunk by Jud Buechler.

The Nets forged a 43-43 tie on a layup by Gill, but Chicago took control by scoring the next 12 points. Toni Kukoc hit two free throws and converted a three-point play around a jumper by Jordan to make it 50-43 with 2:33 remaining. Kukoc added a layup and Steve Kerr capped the run with a three-point play to give Chicago a 55-43 lead with 1:34 left in the first half.

An 11-4 run at the start of the second half extended Chicago's lead to 66-49 at the 6:59 mark of the third quarter on a 10-footer by Jordan. The Bulls took their largest lead of the game at 113-79 with 21 seconds to play on a jumper by Randy Brown.

The Bulls shot 49 percent (44-of-90) from the field and 8-of-18 from three-point range. Chicago outrebounded the Nets, 49-35, including 15-5 on the offensive end. Kukoc finished with 13 points and Kerr 11 as the Bulls reserves outscored New Jersey's 46-13.

"After the game got going in the second quarter, we were OK. The first six minutes were pretty painful," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "They shot the lights out, but luckily we turned things around after that. Slow starts are something for us to be concerned about, especially on our home court. We have to focus on getting started. If we start this way against Detroit on Wednesday, we'll be in trouble."

New Jersey shot 44 percent (34-of-78) from the field and was outscored at the foul line, 17-6. Robert Pack had 17 assists, 10 in the first quarter.

"Credit their defense, they're a championship team," said Kittles, who made one of his last six shots in the final three quarters. "Tonight I think they came out, waited to see what we would do, see if we'd come to play. They saw we did, so they turned up the heat in the second quarter. They did a good job of tying up Robert (Pack) and shutting me down."

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