Hinrich scores career-high 38 as Bulls beat Pacers

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Kirk Hinrich scored a career-high 38 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 108-95 on Wednesday night even though their two best players were injured.

The Bulls learned earlier in the day that forward Luol Deng would miss one to three weeks because of his recurring left Achilles' tendinitis. Then, they found out that leading scorer Ben Gordon would sit out with a sprained right wrist.

Even so, they had more than enough to beat the Pacers.

Hinrich, who hit 14 of 21 shots, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and left to a loud ovation with 40 seconds left. Andres Nocioni added 24 points, including six during a 17-0 run in the second quarter that snapped a 29-all tie and put the Bulls ahead for good.

Joakim Noah added 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Thabo Sefolosha scored 14 points.

Danny Granger did all he could to keep Indiana in the game, scoring a career-high 33 points.

The Pacers had whittled the lead to 79-77 on a basket by Shawne Williams and two free throws by Mike Dunleavy 1:16 into the fourth. But the Bulls went on a 16-6 run that increased their lead to 95-83 with 5:19 left in the game.

Hinrich scored six points during that stretch and delivered a behind-the-back pass in transition to Noah for a dunk that drew a roar from the crowd.

It was quite a contrast, considering the way the day began for the Bulls. But now, Chicago trails eighth-place Indiana by just one game in the Eastern Conference after absorbing two big blows before the game.

Gordon hurt his wrist during a 104-90 loss at Memphis on Monday and was unable to play against the Pacers. Deng's condition has been bothering him for about a month, and he does not want to rush back.

"We're going to try to be smart about it," he said before the game. "I don't want to come back and have to sit down again. Even if I feel good after one week, I'm really going to try to test it and see how good it feels before I start going again."

Deng, second on the team at 17.9 points per game, missed three games before returning Jan. 13 at Atlanta. The problem flared up again during the fourth quarter against Golden State on Friday, and he sat out the following night against Detroit. He played 26 minutes at Memphis but sat out the fourth quarter because of the pain and the lopsided score.

The Bulls did just fine without Deng and Gordon in the second quarter, outscoring Indiana by 11 to turn a three-point advantage into a 57-43 halftime lead.

Nocioni started the 17-0 run with two free throws and converted back-to-back layups that made it 39-29. Indiana called time, but the onslaught continued. Dunleavy immediately got stripped driving the lane, leading to a short hook for Noah, and he turned the ball over in the backcourt following a put-back by Tyrus Thomas. Hinrich then buried a 3-pointer that made it 46-29 with 7:17 left in the half.


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