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Improving Bulls closing in on .500

CHICAGO (AP) -- Ben Gordon got so weary in the first half from
chasing Allen Iverson, he asked to come out of the game to catch
his breath.

Gordon had enough energy left in the fourth quarter Wednesday
night to put on a shooting display, and the surging Chicago Bulls
pulled away and routed the Philadelphia 76ers 110-78 for their
fifth straight win.

"Sometimes you just kind of get, you know, lost in the game.
You don't hear the crowd, you're just out there shooting," said
Gordon, who had 19 points in the final period on 6-of-6 shooting
and finished with 31 to match his career high.

"You don't know how many points you have, you're just out there
shooting," he added. "It's a great feeling."

The Bulls are feeling good about themselves, for sure.

With a pair of five-game victory streaks in the last month,
they've won 11 of their last 14 and moved within three games of
.500 after an 0-9 start.

If the playoffs started tomorrow, they'd be in as the No. 8 team
in the East.

"I know I should probably make some colorful comment about it,
but I don't really have one," coach Scott Skiles said. "We're
happy about the way we're playing. I'm almost immediately thinking
about six in a row."

Gordon hit four 3-pointers and converted a three-point play in
the fourth as the Bulls pulled away and opened a 35-point lead.

"When Ben gets it going, our guys know he's getting it doing.
Not only do we run plays for him, but they find him in transition.
He shoots it as easy as anybody I've seen for a young player,"
Skiles said.

He also credited Gordon for helping force Iverson into an
8-for-21 shooting night. Iverson finished with 21 points.

"I just tried to use my speed to try to stay close to him and
contain him," Gordon said.

Iverson said the Bulls have developed a swagger with their
recent stretch of success. A month ago, the Sixers came to town and
beat Chicago. Since that loss, the Bulls have become a different
team.

"They have big-time confidence," Iverson said. "Coming into
the game you don't expect those guys to beat you by 30 points, but
when you look at their talent on paper and if you don't come ready
to play, you can see how they could beat someone by 30 points."

Chicago, leading the NBA in field goal percentage defense, has
held 20 straight opponents under 100 points.

Marc Jackson added 17 for Philadelphia, which had won 11 of its
previous 12 games at the United Center.

Eddy Curry was 9-for-11 from the field and scored a season-high
24 for Chicago, while Kirk Hinrich added 16.

Chicago pushed a seven-point halftime lead to 13 early in the
third quarter when Curry and Luol Deng made three-point plays in a
9-0 run. The Bulls led by 13 after three, and Gordon's first
3-pointer pushed the lead to 18 early in the final period.

With a 25-7 run that included three 3-pointers by Hinrich and a
10-0 spurt, the Bulls built a 12-point lead late in the first half.

The Sixers clawed back to within five and could have been
closer, but when Iverson took a pass and went hard to the basket,
missed the layup under close guard from Hinrich and screamed for a
foul. Hinrich then fed Curry for a dunk just before the buzzer and
the Bulls led 45-38.

The Sixers were just 5-of-24 from the field in the second
quarter and Iverson missed 10 of 15 first-half field goal
attempts.<
^Notes: Sixers C Samuel Dalembert, who'd started the previous 14
games, didn't play because of a hip strain, so Jackson logged 31
minutes. In the teams' previous meeting won by Philly 93-88 last
month, Dalembert had 13 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Backup Brian Skinner was hit in the eye late in the first quarter,
had to leave the game and did not return. ... Antonio Davis
returned to Chicago's starting lineup after missing two games with
a hip pointer. ... Philadelphia has played nine of its last 10
games on the road.