Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/1

Game 1: Friday, December 1st
Game 2: Friday, March 2nd

Bulls 111

(6-9, 3-8 away)

Hornets 108


    Coverage: CSNC

    7:00 PM ET, December 1, 2006

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 28 31 24 28111
    NO 24 23 30 31108

    Top Performers

    Chi: A. Nocioni 31 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    NO: C. Paul 25 Pts, 11 Reb, 18 Ast, 5 Stl, 1 Blk

    Nocioni, Bulls hold off series of Hornets comebacks

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- It wasn't the way Kirk Hinrich wants the Chicago Bulls to finish a game, but it still netted exactly the result his coach was looking for.

    Andres Nocioni scored a career-high 31 points, including two late free throws, and the Bulls held off a series of comebacks for a 111-108 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.

    Chicago allowed New Orleans to cut a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit to two in the waning moments, but was still able to escape with its third straight win.

    "That's the kind of win we need to get," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "When you come on the road like this, no matter how you can get it, you've got to get it."

    Rasual Butler scored 26 of his career-high 33 points in the second half to lead the Hornets' comeback, and his seventh 3-pointer of the game got the Hornets within 109-106.

    "We've got to get better at finishing the game and holding leads," Hinrich said. "But some of those Butler was just on fire."

    When Butler finally missed, Tyson Chandler dunked on the rebound to make it a two-point game. Chicago's Ben Gordon hit one of two free throws with 2.4 seconds left, and Chris Paul's half-court shot for the tie was after the buzzer and off-target.

    Paul had his third career triple-double with 25 points, a career-high 18 assists and 11 rebounds. Jannero Pargo added 18 points and Marc Jackson scored 15. Tyson Chandler, who was traded to the Hornets after the Bulls signed Ben Wallace, had 16 rebounds. Wallace had only one point and four rebounds in 33 minutes.

    Luol Deng added 21 points for Chicago, while Hinrich and Gordon each scored 17. Nocioni also had 13 rebounds for his third double-double this season.

    "We got some big shots and people had some big plays, but also on the other side we had some plays that we weren't very wise, to say the least," Skiles said.

    Butler led New Orleans back with 11 points -- including three 3-pointers -- during a 15-3 run that pulled the Hornets within 83-77 at the end of the third quarter.

    Hinrich returned from the bench and drove for a layup to spark a 9-0 answer by the Bulls at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Hornets weren't done yet. Reserve Pargo scored seven in a row to cut the deficit to 94-87, and the Hornets got within five on Paul's two free throws with 5:39 left

    Gordon answered with a jumper and Nocioni hit his career-best fifth 3-pointer from the right wing to stretch the lead back to 10 with 4:40 to play.

    That was just enough space for the Bulls to fight off another comeback attempt that included a two-handed alley-oop dunk by Desmond Mason. Butler's 3-pointer made it 107-103 before Nocioni hit two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to set up the closing sequence.

    "If we're up eight or six with two minutes to go, we've got to keep attacking and realize that we've still got to score," Hinrich said. "Obviously, we've got to get stops and rebounds but we still have to attack and be aggressive offensively."

    New Orleans scored more than 83 points for the first time during its five-game losing streak. The Hornets are without three of their top four scorers -- David West (forearm), Peja Stojakovic (back) and sixth man Bobby Jackson (ribs) -- and have dropped to last in the NBA in scoring.

    "I think we showed a lot of fight in us, but at the end of the game we still didn't get the win," Paul said. "It's all about wins and losses."

    The Bulls surged into the lead with eight straight points late in the first quarter and were ahead 45-31 after a 10-0 second-quarter run that included seven straight points by Gordon.

    Chicago was up 59-47 at halftime after shooting 9-for-13 from 3-point range and led by as much as 80-62 after Deng's three-point play with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

    Game notes

    Chandler and Pargo, who were acquired by the Hornets in offseason moves, traded hugs and handshakes with several Bulls players during pregame warmups. P.J. Brown, who was traded for Chandler, got a warm ovation when he entered in the first quarter. ... Bulls F Malik Allen was inactive with flulike symptoms. ... The Bulls' Wallace, benched last week for wearing a headband, didn't wear one -- but Marc Jackson of the Hornets did.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 111 108
    FGM-FGA 41-86 (.477) 36-78 (.462)
    3PM-3PA 12-21 (.571) 9-18 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 17-25 (.680) 27-40 (.675)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-43 11-44
    Assists 25 25
    Turnovers 15 18
    Steals 6 7
    Blocks 7 6
    Fast Break Points 9 26
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 32 (0/0) 22 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 18 4

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Andres Nocioni Nocioni
    Points: 31
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Chris Paul Paul
    Points: 25
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 18
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 1