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Gordon, Chandler lead Bulls to win over Wizards

CHICAGO (AP) -- When things were going bad for Tyson Chandler, he
put everything on his shoulders: his big contract, his string of
bad performances and his resulting lack of minutes.

Now that he's seemingly out of his first-half funk, Chandler is
starting to carry his weight for the Chicago Bulls.

Chandler grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds to lead the Bulls to
a 90-79 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Ben
Gordon led all scorers with 26 points.

"I'm happy for Tyson," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "I'm
sure a good amount of grief he's gone through has been
self-imposed. He's kind of tortured himself for some of the games
he hasn't played well in. He's really broke out the last three
games and he was obviously excellent again tonight."

Chandler added 12 points and two blocks. He went 8-for-11 from
the free-throw line, a vast improvement from his 39 percent average
coming in. He hit four in a row to end the game and finished with
his fifth double-double of the season.

The 7-foot-1 center has averaged 12.7 points and 14 rebounds
over his last three games. He signed a six-year, $63 million deal
before the season and hadn't played up to that level much since. He
came into the game averaging 4.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.

"I was thinking about it too much," Chandler said. "It's
never that you don't want to go out there and play well and play
hard but when you start thinking, everything creeps in. You think
about the last shot you missed, you think about the rebound you
missed, and you don't get anything accomplished. Now it's like if
you missed, forget about it and make it up the next time."

The Bulls never trailed and fought off a fourth-quarter rally
from Washington to win for the fourth time in five games. Chicago
made 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth and Gordon scored nine
points in the quarter to help close it out.

The Bulls went scoreless for about six minutes as Washington
went on a 10-0 run to pull within 69-67 on a Gilbert Arenas
3-pointer with 6:19 to play. The Bulls got some breathing room with
an 11-4 surge but the Wizards came right back and Antawn Jamison's
3 cut the lead back to four.

But Gordon responded with a 3 and the Wizards never challenged
again, missing their next five shots.

Chicago shot just 12-for-42 (28.6 percent) in the second half,
and 38 percent for the game, but its defense stayed strong, forcing
13 turnovers and grabbing 26 rebounds. They made 26-of-34 from the
line.

"To win a game where we only make 12 field goals in the second
half, obviously our defense is good," Skiles said. "I thought we
were very active and it won the game for us."

Caron Butler scored 12 points with a career-high 16 rebounds for
Washington. He had 12 boards in the first half, nine on the
offensive glass. Arenas led the Wizards with 23 points. Jamison
added 21 points and 10 rebounds and Brendan Haywood scored 12 with
13 rebounds.

Washington (19-22) was held to a season-low in points, shot 36
percent and only went to the line 20 times, almost 11 less than its
average.

"I think we got some great looks, but we weren't making some of
the looks," Butler said. "You've got to give them credit for
their defense. They did a great job of protecting the paint."

Washington coach Eddie Jordan was terse after the game but said
the team had a bad practice on Thursday, too loose for his taste.

"Our last practice, our last shoot-around, just weren't serious
enough," Jordan said. "I allowed things to happen out on the
floor that I should have stopped. I'll make sure it won't happen
again."

The Wizards have lost to the Bulls both times they've played
this season after knocking Chicago out of the playoffs last season.
Washington is now a half-game ahead of the Bulls for the eighth
playoff spot in the East.

"You start getting past the mid-point or getting to the 30-game
point and you have a chance to pick up a full game on a team, you'd
like to take advantage of that," Skiles said.

Chicago used a 14-2 run to establish an early lead in the first.
Kirk Hinrich layup off a nifty give-and-go play with Chandler made
it 18-6 with 4:58 to play.

The Wizards moved closer in the second quarter. A Jamison
3-pointer capped off an 11-4 run and cut the lead to 40-38. Gordon
then scored five of his 15 first-half points down the stretch as
the Bulls led 47-42 at the break.

Game notes
Wizards forward Etan Thomas played for the first time in
four games after a death in the family. He scored three points
after entering the game in the fourth quarter. ... The Bulls signed
forward James Thomas to a 10-day contract earlier Friday. He made
his Bulls debut with 2:07 left in the second quarter and quickly
committed two fouls. ... Wizards forward Awvee Storey was late
scratch with a sprained left ankle.