Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 1/27

Game 1: Thursday, January 27th
Game 2: Saturday, February 26th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 30th
Game 4: Saturday, April 2nd

Bobcats 93

(8-31, 1-18 away)

Bulls 101

(22-19, 15-9 home)

    Coverage: WGN

    7:30 PM ET, January 27, 2005

    United Center, Chicago, IL

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHA 21 23 29 2093
    CHI 29 21 24 27101

    Top Performers

    Cha: J. Hart 17 Pts, 5 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl

    Chi: A. Nocioni 17 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Pargo, Nocioni provide 4th-quarter spark

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Eric Piatkowski has often found himself watching fourth quarters from the bench during his 10-year NBA career, but he doesn't have to worry about playing time in critical situations under Bulls coach Scott Skiles.

    Piatkowski came off the bench to score 16 points, and Andres Nocioni added 17 in a reserve role to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 101-93 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday night.

    Jannero Pargo scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter for Chicago, which extended its winning streak to five games. The Bulls have won 12 of their last 13 games and eight straight at home.

    "I have been on a lot of teams in the past where a coach didn't feel that confidence, he would put (bench) guys in ... and they would get you back in the game, and he would yank you out because it was almost like they couldn't stand to have those guys in (late in the game) because they had to have their starters in," Piatkowski said.

    "Scott and his staff have told us numerous times, 'We have a lot of confidence in all of you players and we will play you at the most important time of the game if we feel you are the right person at the right time."

    Skiles felt that way Thursday night and didn't play a starter in the entire fourth quarter.

    Trailing 73-71 with one minute left in the third quarter, Nocioni had a steal and a three-point play to give Chicago a 74-73 lead. Jason Kapono hit a 3 for the Bobcats, making it 79-78 early in the fourth quarter, before Chicago extended its lead behind a 17-4 run with all reserves on the floor.

    Pargo, who has played sparingly this season, scored 10 points during the run. Nocioni and Piatkowski hit back-to-back baskets to give the Bulls a 83-78 lead, and Pargo capped it off with a jumper to make it 96-82 with 4:16 left. He was 7-of-10 from the field in the fourth quarter.

    "The guys they brought off (the bench), with Pargo, (Othella) Harrington, and they all contributed. They all seem to know their roles. I thought their execution was good and they delivered on their execution. But the key was the guy that kept them going was Pargo," Bobcats head coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.

    Chicago's reserves contributed 63 points.

    "Thank goodness for our bench," Skiles said. "At the beginning of the game, that was as soft as our defense has been the whole year. I was leery of leaving the starters out there."

    The Bobcats have dropped 10 straight and have the NBA's worst road record, 1-18. They have lost 16 of 17 overall since winning three of four games from Dec. 14-22.

    It was the first meeting between former college teammates Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, who led Connecticut to the 2004 national championship and were taken with the second and third picks in the NBA draft, but neither stood out. Gordon spent the entire second half on the bench, and Okafor was held to four points.

    "Stuff happens, I think we play them another two or three times. We will have our chances," Gordon said.

    Kareem Rush had 24 points for the Bobcats and Jason Hart added 17 points. Rush was 6-of-8 from three-point range.

    The Bulls led 50-44 at the half. Luol Deng scored all of his 12 points in the half, and Piatkowski added eight points off the bench.

    Game notes

    Before the game, Okafor and Gordon were selected for the Rookie Challenge on Feb. 18 as part of the NBA All-Star weekend in Denver. Okafor, the No. 2 overall selection in the draft, is averaging 15.4 points and 11.3 rebounds for the Bobcats, while Gordon is averaging 13.1 points for the Bulls. Deng was also selected to play for the rookie team and Kirk Hinrich was picked to play for the sophomore team. ... The Bulls haven't won eight in a row on their home court since a 10-game winning streak from Feb. 28-April 11, 1998.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 93 101
    FGM-FGA 34-73 (.466) 41-77 (.532)
    3PM-3PA 10-17 (.588) 6-16 (.375)
    FTM-FTA 15-18 (.833) 13-17 (.765)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-33 6-34
    Assists 23 26
    Turnovers 16 14
    Steals 9 7
    Blocks 2 2
    Fast Break Points 7 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 4 14

    Top Performers

    Jason Hart Hart
    Points: 17
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Andres Nocioni Nocioni
    Points: 17
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0