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CHICAGO(AP) Ben Gordon scored 39 points, John Salmons finished with 19 after a slow start and the Chicago Bulls hit the .500 mark for the first time since mid-November with a 113-106 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.With the Bulls trailing 93-92 midway through the fourth, Salmons and Gordon hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the decisive 10-point run and send Chicago to its fourth straight win and 11th in 14 games. Derrick Rose added 22 as the seventh-place Bulls (40-40) strengthened their standing in the Eastern Conference.Chicago moved a game ahead of the Pistons, a 106-102 loser to Indiana, with two to play heading into Monday's meeting at Detroit. The Bulls also pulled within a half-game of sixth-place Philadelphia with their 14th win in 15 home games. And, if you can believe it, fifth-place Miami isn't quite out of reach, either.Chicago now trails the Heat by 1 1/2 games, but playoff possibilities aside, the Bulls needed to get by a team that saw its postseason hopes die the previous night in an 84-81 loss at Oklahoma City.Raymond Felton (26 points) and Boris Diaw (24 points) kept the Bobcats in it for 3 1/2 quarters, but the Bulls pulled away behind a late surge by Gordon and Salmons.Gordon was 7-of-12 on 3-pointers in the game and scored 13 in the fourth, while Salmons had 11 after three quiet quarters.The Bulls finally took control midway through the fourth.Brad Miller gave the crowd something to cheer moments later when he drove the baseline for a reverse layup to tie it, and after a free throw by Emeka Okafor, Salmons and Gordon hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 98-93 with 4:30 left. Gordon then knocked a loose ball off Diaw and out of bounds along the sideline, and Salmons hit a free throw to make it a six-point game with just under four minutes left.D.J. Augustin then coughed the ball up after a timeout, and Salmons buried another 3 at the shot-clock buzzer to make it 102-93 with 3:14 left. And finally, the Bulls could exhale after a feisty effort by Charlotte.Considering they started 7-18, the fact that the Bobcats were in the playoff chase until Friday was remarkable. Then again, the Bulls looked like a long shot for most of the year.The Bulls were nine games below .500 in late January and were still eight under after losing at Philadelphia on March 13. But now?They're at .500 for the first time since a win over Indiana Nov. 15 that put them at 5-5. And, in the words of Tyrus Thomas, they are "the most dangerous team'' in the Eastern Conference. That remark came after the Bulls beat Philadelphia on Thursday, but it wasn't the only bold statement of late. They've made plenty on the court.Notes: The Bulls were 22-of-27 from the foul line after making all 19 free throws against Philadelphia on Thursday. ... Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said he went wild after Charlotte lost on Friday. Well, not exactly. "I went to bed,'' he said. ... After visiting Detroit, the Bulls finish the regular season at home against Toronto on Wednesday. ... F Tim Thomas missed his third game due to a family matter but is expected to meet the team at Detroit. ... Charlotte's remaining games are at New Jersey on Monday and at Orlando on Wednesday.

Author: derkach77
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Added: April 11, 2009