"It's an advantage that we've played in so many tight games,"
said Deng, who scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter in
leading the Chicago Bulls to a 106-102 victory over the Boston
Celtics on Friday night.
"Tonight we kept our poise when they went up by seven points
with five minutes left, but we kept making jump shots."
The Bulls needed that composure after the Boston's Delonte West
and Chris Duhon traded 3-pointers, giving the Celtics an 87-80
"We just said they had their run -- it's time for our run,"
Chicago then went on an 18-6 run that included 10 points by Deng
and six from Gordon, including a dunk with 3:01 left, giving the
Bulls a 98-93 lead.
Despite Pierce's 43 points -- his first 40-plus point performance
since Dec. 13, 2003, at Cleveland when he had 41 points -- the Bulls
did a nice job of silencing the rest of the Celtics, including
Ricky Davis, who was held to 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
"Paul had a big night but we had a bunch of guys who had
success in tonight's game and helped us in different areas," said
Gordon, who added 20 points for the Bulls.
"(That) run down the stretch was sparked by our defense.
Although they made a run, we didn't give up. We continued to play
tough D and get stops. That's what won us the game."
Pierce scored 12 points to help the Celtics seized control near
the end of the third period. In the fourth, the Celtics led by as
many as seven before the Bulls rallied.
"It's a tough loss," said Pierce, who added 11 rebounds and
five assists for the Celtics, who failed to win back-to-back games
again this season.
"Anytime we blow a big opportunity, especially before a big
road trip coming up, it hurts."
Andres Nocioni scored 16 points for the Bulls, who have won five
of six. Duhon added 11 points, including four critical free throws
in the final seconds, and finished with seven assists.
Gordon hit a 3-pointer at 4:28 to cut the deficit to two points,
91-89. Davis hit two free throws to give the Celtics a four-point
lead, but a jumper by Deng and two free throws by Kirk Hinrich tied
the game at 93-all.
Pierce kept it close down the stretch, hitting a 3-pointer with
16 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 102-99.
"We didn't cover him very well," Bulls head coach Scott Skiles
said of Pierce. "One of our problems so far is we're letting the
best player on the other team get off on us and that's not what we
did last year."
The Bulls led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter.
Deng scored on a layup to give the Bulls a 51-36 lead. But the
Celtics, who got 20 first-half points from Pierce, used a 9-2 run
to close to within eight points, 56-48, at the half.
Chicago's 34 first-quarter points were the most scored
against Boston this season. ... The Bulls are 0-2 against Atlantic
Division foes. ... The Bulls are the only NBA team without a
15-point per game scorer. Six players are averaging double figures.
... Rivers was ejected for the first time this season at 5:32 in
the second quarter.