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Chicago closing in on East's fourth seed

CHICAGO (AP) -- Not even injuries can slow down the Chicago
Bulls.

Othella Harrington scored 22 points and the Bulls won their
ninth straight game with a 112-97 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on
Saturday night.

The Bulls easily extended their season-high winning streak and
moved 10 games over .500 despite missing two players. Chicago moved
a half-game behind the Washington Wizards for the fourth seed in
the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"This is something special. I hope that all the young guys on
the team understand that streaks like this don't come around very
often in the NBA," said Chicago's Eric Piatkowski, who had 19
points in the win. "It just doesn't happen. You can play many,
many years in this league, unless you are fortunate to have
Shaquille O'Neal on your team or have a team like maybe the Detroit
Pistons or San Antonio Spurs are right now, it's tough to do things
like that."

Eddy Curry missed his third straight game and remained
hospitalized for more testing on an irregular heartbeat. Luol Deng
also missed the game for Chicago with a sprained right wrist.

Kirk Hinrich played despite a sore left hamstring and Ben Gordon
only played 13 minutes because of foul trouble, but the Bulls never
had problems with the struggling Bobcats.

"We got the win and I was able to not over play Kirk tonight,
which was nice. I kind of saw him make a move and kind of grimace a
little bit, so it was nice to get him out of there and still get
the win," said Bulls coach Scott Skiles.

Leading 72-71, the Bulls started to pull away late in the third
quarter. Piatkowski and Jannero Pargo hit consecutive 3-pointers
and Andres Nocioni converted a three-point play to put Chicago up
81-71.

Hinrich extended Chicago's lead to 97-80 with a 3 with 6:28 left
in the game.

Nocioni finished with 15 points and Tyson Chandler had 12 points
and 15 rebounds for Chicago.

"It seems like whenever somebody gets hurt or is out, somebody
else steps up," Chandler said.

Chris Duhon hit a halfcourt shot as time expired in the third
quarter and scored a season-high 17 points.

Charlotte lost its fourth straight game and is 1-22 on the road
against Eastern Conference opponents.

Rookie Emeka Okafor was impressive early for the Bobcats and
finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds. Matt Carroll scored
career-high 20 for Charlotte.

"I just got off to a fast start. Brevin (Knight) did a good job
of finding the ball to me. I just had the magic touch and we went
with it," Okafor said.

The Bobcats lost Gerald Wallace in the second quarter when he
was ejected by official Joe Crawford. Wallace was called for an
illegal screen and angrily argued the call by Crawford. Crawford
gave Wallace two quick technicals.

Chicago led 57-52 at the half. Okafor scored 16 points in the
first quarter on 7-of-8 shooting.
^Notes:@ The Bulls made their first seven shots of the game. ...
Chandler had 15 rebounds for the second straight game. ... Gordon
finished with two points. ... The Bulls went 4-0 against the
Bobcats this season.