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Bulls cruise past Nets, 96-85

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CHICAGO (AP) - Joakim Noah had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Carlos Boozer scored 20 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-85 on Saturday.

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The Bulls went on a 19-0 run that started in the second quarter and stretched into third, giving them an 18-point lead. They opened March on a winning note after going 5-8 in February, just their second losing month in 2 1/2 seasons under coach Tom Thibodeau.

Noah followed up the third triple-double of his career with another terrific performance that also included four blocks. He committed five turnovers, but even so it sure was an impressive follow-up to Thursday's gem, when he had 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks in a win over Philadelphia.

Boozer added eight rebounds. Jimmy Butler had 13 points, Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich scored 12 apiece, and the Bulls won their second straight after dropping seven of 10.

Brook Lopez led Brooklyn with 22 points - 14 in the first quarter - but the Nets fell for the fourth time in five games. Deron Williams cooled off, finishing with 14 after averaging 27 over the previous three games.

Joe Johnson scored 11 in his second game back after missing three with a foot injury and committed five of Brooklyn's 21 turnovers.

Noah had 15 points in the first half, and the Bulls led 53-39 at the break after trailing by 11 in the early going.

They scored the final 15 points of the second quarter and got a pull-up jumper and driving layup from Boozer to start the third, turning a one-point deficit into a 57-39 lead.

Daequan Cook ignited the run by nailing a 3 with 4:16 remaining in the half, and Robinson and Hinrich struck from long range on back-to-back possessions with about a minute remaining.

Butler also scored four during that stretch, including a 20-footer with 18.8 seconds remaining, and Brooklyn's C.J. Watson missed a long jumper at the buzzer to keep the lead at 14.

NOTES: G Richard Hamilton missed his second straight game because of back spasms and Thibodeau did not expect him to travel to Indiana, where the Bulls play the Pacers on Sunday. ... Chicago signed veteran F Lou Amundson to a 10-day contract. ... This was the first in a stretch of 12 of 15 road games for the Nets, and interim coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn't thrilled about that. It culminates with eight straight on the road while the Barclay's Center hosts the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. ``I don't like it,'' Carlesimo said. ``I'd much rather the schedule was more balanced and we didn't have the circus in for whatever it's in for. A lot of teams go through this at different stages of the year. Some teams are fortunate they schedule away from the playoffs, and it really helps them. We're far from the lone rangers. A lot of teams go through this. Ours is coming at a bad time. You don't want it to happen in March.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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