CHICAGO (AP) - Never mind Carlos Boozer's early foul trouble. Or those missed shots.
No matter how difficult it was, Derrick Rose insisted wins like this show just how good the Bulls are.
Boozer scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Chicago won for the 12th time in 14 games, pulling away late to beat the New Jersey Nets 90-81 on Friday afternoon.
Luol Deng and Rose scored 19 apiece, and the Bulls made enough shots down the stretch after struggling from the field for much of the game.
``It shows how good we are,' Rose said. ``We still won this game. In the past, it usually took us like to shoot 70 percent, 60 percent, and that usually comes out to a win. We're just grateful for this win and we'll take it.'
Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 19 points. Travis Outlaw and Stephen Graham each scored 16, but the Nets dropped their fourth straight.
``That's a really good team,' Lopez said. ``We battled them the entire game.'
Outscored by a combined 51 points over the previous three games, the Nets hung in against the Central division leaders.
New Jersey was within 75-73 after a tip-in by Derrick Favors midway through the fourth quarter but simply couldn't pull this one out.
Boozer converted a three-point play, Rose hit two free throws and just like that, the Bulls were up 80-73 with 5:24 left.
Rose answered a basket by Devin Harris with an off-balance floater along the baseline. After Graham nailed the jumper, Chicago got a layup by Kurt Thomas and a dunk from Boozer that made it 86-77 with just under three minutes left.
``If you really watched this game, our guys battled tonight,' Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ``The game was physical. We really played hard against Boozer and those guys inside.'
While the Nets shot 39 percent, the Bulls (39.5) were barely better. Neither team could connect from the outside, with New Jersey going 3 for 13 on 3-pointers and Chicago hitting 6 of 22.
The Nets also held a 46-43 rebounding edge, but the Bulls came out on top.
``It wasn't an easy win by any means,' Boozer said. ``We fought hard. They fought hard, take our hats off to them. We did a great job in the last five or six minutes of the game of getting good stops and cutting up their zone defense. We got a couple layups, couple free throws, couple J's and continued to get stops from the defensive side and got a little cushion, enough for us to win.'
Rose struggled from the field, going 5 of 16, but chipped in with nine assists.
Boozer, who missed practice on Thursday for personal reasons, had his way after picking up two early fouls, going 8 of 14 from the field while turning in his fifth double-double in six games.
Deng came up big, particularly in the third quarter when he scored 10 points, but the Bulls had a tough time putting away New Jersey.
They would go up by eight or 10, only to see the Nets come back, and coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't thrilled about that. He's not thrilled, either, about the lack of fastbreak points. The Bulls are struggling in that area with Joakim Noah recuperating from right hand surgery and got just nine on Friday.
``Jo is a great runner, but Carlos is also a great runner so we have to be able to get him up the floor quicker,' Thibodeau said. ``Kurt, we're asking him to play great defense, rebound, block out. The thing that Kurt does very well, he trails in. ... We should still be able to score a lot quicker than we are right now.'
NOTES: Nets backup PG Jordan Farmar sat out with a bruised right knee. The team was awaiting the MRI results. New Jersey also was without F Troy Murphy, who stayed at the hotel with a viral infection and flu. Coach Avery Johnson said Murphy will fly home and miss the game at Minnesota on Saturday. ... The Bulls' four-game homestand continues with Cleveland on Saturday before wrapping up against Toronto on Tuesday. They then visit the Nets the next day.
The Associated Press News Service
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